Filling the Tournament of Pizza pool

final round

Last year's finals: Pizza King vs. Pasquale's

Preparations are currently underway at AOA headquarters for this year's Capital Region Tournament of Pizza.

What, you may ask, is the Tournament of Pizza? Sixteen local pizza places "play" each other in a series of "matches" to deterimine the region's best pizza. It's kind of like the NCAA basketball tournament, but, you know, for pizza. Pasquale's in Albany took the title last year.

The selection committee is busy putting the brackets together for this year's tournament. And we need your help.

Eight pizza places are already in this year's tournament because they won a match during last year's pizzapalooza. That leaves eight open spots.

We're guessing you have a few thoughts about which pizza places should get those slots. So, bring it on!

Preference will be given to new entrants. If there's overwhelming support for one of the places bounced in the first round last year, the selection committee may make an exception. Also, the pizza places don't have to be in Albany, Schenectady, Troy or Saratoga. We've heard that Guilderland and Latham both have some strong contenders this year.

The list of who's in and out based on last year's results is after the jump.


Albany Bracket
Pasquale's - tournament champ
Inferno - first round winner

Pizza King - tournament runner-up
Home Style - first round winner

I Love NY - bracket champ
Red Front - first round winner

D'Andrea's - bracket champ
Caputo's - first round winner

These places lost in the first round last year

Albany Bracket


DeFazio's (in a big upset)
Knotty Pine

Broadway Pizza


Repeat of my tweet to you yesterday... You should do a Latham round. Little Bites and More, Dom's, and Vintage...

Angela's in Glenmont for the Albany bracket (it's in Albany County, after all, and it's the bees knees). TRUST me.

I think the Fountain on New Scotland in Albany has EXCELLENT pizza. Crispy and cheesy and yum.

La Bella Brick Oven Pizza - Ballston Spa
Primo Pizzeria - Ballston Spa

It is unlikely anyone else will mention this hole in the wall place near the SUNY campus - D.C. So I'm glad to be toward the top of the comments.

These guys do good work. You should really check them out. Just like a NYC slice shop, but without the attitude. Still, it's solid. And it could be a contender.

Little Anthony's

Schenectady: Nico's (State Street)

Albany: Bello Pranzo (Western Ave near SUNY)

Other: Smith's Tavern (Voorheesville)

Feretti's in Clifton Park! Amazing tender, thin, crispy crust. Simple, fresh sauce. Yummy cheese. It's delish!

The Fountain in Albany, Vintage and Mousetrap in Latham, and how about Clifton Park? There's the newly opened Arizona Pizza and Mama's is always good. I would also throw in Dino's and Marcella's of Burnt Hills.

Pizzeria Sapienza on Pearl St. never had it until I started working downtown and it is great.

Any pizza shop that sells pizza by "cut" (i.e. "six cut", "twelve cut", etc.) should be automatically disqualified. Pizzas come in small, medium, and large. Small pies are cut like a Trivial Pursuit piece, and all other sizes have 8 sizes. There is of course, the exception of "house" pies, but as the name designates, these are not generally available to the public, and are pizza outliers.

"Sheet Pizza" that is not directly identified as "Sicilian" should also be a disqualifier.

I have opinions on pizza.

And one more thing: if your "Baked Ziti" is pasta with some sauce and cheese thrown on top, we need to have words.

I second the Latham places.

Since so many of us live outside of the big three cities in the area plus Saratoga (zing?), maybe you could round those up by county. Albany County (minus the city, naturally), Saratoga County, Rensselaer, etc.

Perhaps the winner of each county would be entered into a fourth slot for each city group. For example, the best Albany county pizza place would line up alongside three from the city, and you'd set up your bracket from there.

What about the Purple Pub in Watervliet?

DC's is the best. Please no Fountain. Greasy and overrated. Like a jean claude van damme flick.

If you are willing to head north to the burbs, how about Clifton Park? I'd love to see Brooke's Pizza (Longkill Rd.) up against either Mama's (Rt. 146) or Venezia's (Plank Rd.).

I second Bello Pranzo, they are our go to pizza place.

If you ever do a North Country division, we have:

Brooklyn Pizza, Queensbury.
The Talk Of The Town, Glens Falls
Capri Pizza, Lake George
Pizza Jerks, Lake George & Killington, Vt
Ti Pi, Ticonderoga

I second Little's Anthonys! Recently moved and ordered from there completely randomly; awesome sauce!

Nunzio's has the best pizza in Saratoga! Sign them up.

Should have done this earlier in the summer and gotten Kay's on the list!

Cusato's in Clifton Park. Not only is their pizza yummy as all get-out, they're Billy Fuccillo HUGE

@Erik - Pizza King's Ziti Pizza is just how you described, and personally a major let down after hearing so many great things about the place.

Not to mention I couldn't find crushed red pepper at all. Either someone stole it or they didn't have any, either way it crushed my heart.

Latham - Mousetrap, or Mercato's III
Watervliet- second Purple Pub and also Spiak's

Goomba's in East Greenbush.

I gotta vote for the Fountain too...also, I used to go to a place Called Vinny's on Delaware...I quite enjoyed that, but that was like 2 yrs ago...

I'll throw in for JG's on Lark and Spring. One of the extremely few places that nail the ratio of "sauce to cheese to crust (to topping)" for a superior slice experience.


Yes, it matters more that the elements of a slice be in balance than that it adheres to some regional style, or ingredient list, or some beer-soaked sense memory of the shitty slices you used to cram down your guileless gullet at 3:30am after a night of smoke, adjuncted swill and rejection, though you still somehow cling to all these years later out of laziness and fear.

I say make a list of every joint that has consistently won regional "awards" over the past 20 years and BURN THEM DOWN!

Dump their moribund crapsauce into the Hudson and let it fight it out with PCBs!

Hurl their overworked dough shields into the streets to fill up the potholes the Mayor will trade you a vote for!

Feed their tumerous toppings into a wood chipper and spray the Albany landfill with a feotid layer of demi-organic ooze in a last defiant blarst that will shut that combustible Colgatha down for good.

Look at you!

All of you!

You got millions inside you but you spend pennies!

You stare at the earth while the stars rotate above your heads!

You can be more than the idea of yourself as someone who dips things into ranch dressing!





So, uhm…. yeah: JG's on Lark is pretty good.

I like the "bracketology" idea, but what about expanding to other topics? I'm in the very rare minority who do not eat pizza often enough to be able to really understand the hubbub.

The Fountain.... love the EBA

the Fountain? seriously. people deserve better than Sysco sauce, crusts and shredded cheese "product".

How 'bout Chef's Takeout in Carmen Plaza? really excellent homemade food/pie probably overlooked due to its location in a strip plaza. or Lou Bea's on Delaware? Inferno on Western Ave. in Guilderland not bad at all, either.

I say pick 16 entirely new locations, no repeats from last year. There's more than enough pizza places to do so.

Then, if you'd like, do a competition between last year's winner and this year's.

Courtney's and/or Vintage in Latham

The New Madison Grille has the best pizza in Albany. Hands down. Should definitely be a contender.

I'm going with DiGiorno's, I mean this stuff is just like delivery.

DeFazio's of Troy is the best around, hands down.

I agree capow, and unfortunately they got a bum rap last year, so apparently they're not eligible. The terrible tale is all there in the AOA archives.

I'm not sure I understand the concept of keeping anyone out of the race. Is that an admission that the judges are somehow incapable of eating way, way, wayyyy too much pizza? I would gladly volunteer and wave goodbye to my newly aquired 32" waistline if that's the case.

Oh hey, the Albany Beer & Wing Fest is coming up, maybe AOA could do wing brackets too.

Albany - Spinners

Bacchus in Troy makes an amazing wood fired pizza (which is as close to Italian style as you can find around here) and should be considered. Also, I Love NY on New Scotland makes a fantastic NY style and are one of the only places around that will put sopressata on a pie. Really nice.

My mommy makes good pizza.

Man, looks like the only way to handle this is an all-out NCAA-style 64 pizza bracket. Better yet, make it an AOA get together and have ME help do the taste testing.

I third Little Anthony's! They make a vegan meaball pie that is worth a taste.

No contest. New Yorker Pizza at 98 Wolf Road. Best cheese pie and strongest variety of specialty slices. Try the cheesesteak or Chicken-Bella! It's a small place but it is a godsend in the vast franchise wasteland of wolf road!

Jack's Pizza across from the Times Union Center.

I'll back up DeFazio's of Troy as well, and honestly I did like the pizza at Townsend Pizza/Bakery a lot, but they were not your average pizzaz, no chances to win. Is it going to re-open, yes or yes? Make it yes.

Ario's in Latham!

@Tori: Jack's is my hubby's place; used to be run by my dad, but he retired. They were originally located at the corner of Delaware and Jefferson, and now they're at 52 S. Pearl. So yeah, I second the Jack's nomination. :)
BTW, they will be participating in the beer & wing festival this year.

It's too bad there are only so many slots. I'd love to see how some of the places closer to my neighborhood compare. JG's, Sapienza, Little Anthony's, etc. And all these Albany joints need to share space with Inferno and their other suburban counterparts...

But in the interest in playing by the rules :), I would say there were two big gaps from last year that deserve to be filled in this time around:

In Albany, The Fountain Restaurant. The place is considered the classic old-time pizza place, Albany's equivalent to South Troy's Red Front and DeFazio's. And yet there's been some fightin' words in this thread about whether they're "overrated" or about the quality of their ingredients. To boot, last year's overall champion is on their same block. All the more reason to throw them into the ring and see how they compare.

In Troy, Gino's Pizzeria. It's right nextdoor to I Love -- a classic rivalry already -- and it's the other reason that this block of 4th Street is called "the pizza block."

Oh, please, no Fountain. Awful.

Come on! Show Cohoes some love. Hometowne Pizza is great, but the best I think the best in this city is Mick's Pizza. The crust is peppery and garlic-y and CANNOT BE BEAT.

Pope's in Saratoga Springs.

Smith's Tavern in Voorheesville
Testo's in Troy

Pizza Hut!!!!!

Some "unconventional" recommendations for pizza that are a bit different than the "usual suspects" (but are well worth trying):

The black and bleu pizza from the Victory Cafe in Albany is terrific.

Both Harvest & Hearth and Max London's in Saratoga have superb pizza.

Mangia's in Slingerlands also makes some tasty pizza - their Pizza Ppollo Cipolla, Pizza Napoletana and Carmelized Onion and Fig pizzas are especially good.

And speaking of Slingerlands, Bellini's also has really good pizza . . . I've tried the DaNico, Messina and Salsicce pies, and they're all delicious.

The fountain...sorry Kate in albany. It's really good.

I also hear that Kay's is good. (is that the"other" category? I think it's on Crooked Lake or Burden Lake)

No Orchard?

Fountain? Too much garlic but sure it's okay.

Other than that, Purple Pub, Red Front and the old Firestation Pizza on Central Ave, RIP.

I second Amada's rec of I Love NY Pizza, 15 New Scotland Ave, Albany (next to Quintessence). Under the Radar place that makes an excellent pie.

I think we may need another division for pizza outside the city limits. Taking a cue from High School football, let's call it the Suburban Council.

Sovrana's really deserves another shot. Also, Smith's Tavern in Voorheesville could be a hot contender this year if the contest were to expand out of the previous geographic zones.

Lou-Beas on Delaware. Best. Whole-wheat. Crust. Ever. The regular pie is also delicious.

Vintage - Latham
Genoa - Loudonville

Please throw in Dino's! I started going there because it's conveniently located, but now I'm convinced its better than I Love NY in Troy... which is amazing.

I fourth Little Anthony's. Great sauce, great cheese, great ratio.

@lola Together, we will rid the world of bad baked ziti!!!

Never quit! Never surrender!!!

@Amanda You are right on with Baccus, but they are a totally different style of pizza... how would you judge them against the others.

In addition, I recommend the Red Front in Troy again, but this time, you need to get the COB pizza. THAT is the pie to have there.

@Erik: COB pizza? Do tell, please.

Definitely The Fountain. I'm surprised to hear negative comments. I went years ago, and have been there 4-5 times in the past year. I can't remember what it used to be like, but I love it now!

And I'll cast a vote for Marissa's Place in Guilderland, too.

Since there are so many variables, maybe this year you should stick to traditional (cheese) pies and skip the specialty pies.

I repeat: 16 completely different places from last year, forget the 8 "round winners" from last year.

Anyone else agree?

I do, @Go_Phish. There are so many good places in the area that we don't need to see the same old winners again, we already know they're good.

Do a fresh round now. Then later, much like Jeopardy's tournament of champions, you can recall the past years' winners (or 4 from each year) and do a Super Deluxe Tournament Extravaganza Collector's Edition Pizzapalooza of Champions.

Marisa's Place in Guilderland (Rt 20 & 155) is the closest I've had to real NY pizza up here (I'm from downstate). It's only a year old but I love it!

Kay's at Burden Lake. Although I think they close this weekend.

COB = Cheese on Bottom Sliced mozzarella on the bottom, then covered in their sauce.

I am generally resistant to such gimicky pizza, but if its good, its good, and a COB from Red Front is really good.

Wow... This is a lot of pizza...

The cheeseburger pizza is ridiculously delicious. When we go there we can barely have a conversation we are so engrossed. Thats my favorite but haven't had a ok tasting on there yet, they have all been delicious.

DCs on Western
The Orchard

well, it's come to this. Clearly, the only way we can properly judge all this pizza at one time is to have (sigh) yet *another* AOA get together, wherein we can ALL use our sophisticated palates to judge entered pies. (and perhaps accompany it with a beer or two...)

It would be an imposition of time, yes, but for god's sake, think of the good of the people! It MUST be done...

Nicky G's in East Greenbush has great pizza, calzones, & wings!

Is Brooklyn Pizza still there in Saratoga, on Henry Street (might be Henry Street Pizza now or something like that)? Their pizza is awesome. Also, Venezia's in Clifton Park and Pizza Works in Ballston Spa are good.

Brooke's on Longkill Road in CP (well, maybe it's Ballston Lake).

I'm going to second Lisa's suggestion of "Marisa's Place" in Guilderland. It's fairly new, but it's gotten good reviews from everyone I know who's eaten there. Also see their review on the TU site. Erik might like the owner, he also has 'opinions.'

The Fountain should definitely be a contender. Can't believe the negative comments.

Pizzeria Sapienza outside of the TU center makes an excellent pizza and should deserve a slot.

Somebody mentioned Angela's in Glenmont...Also something to think about.

Troy - Deli and Brew on rt 4 near HVCC.

Sliders in Rensselaer (my local favorite, and highly recommended in the Rensselaer New York Facebook Group.)

I'm in favor of a clean slate too (or at least more new slots). Kay's in Burden lake is closing Sept. 26 - it's well worth the trip ( I'm also partial to the "Sand Lake Special" at Jeff's, on the corner of 43 & 150 in West Sand Lake.

@VorJack I will only like him if he has the RIGHT opinions. That means mine.

I never claimed to be reasonable, just right.

I didn't get to read all of the comments, but if it hasn't been mentioned already, Marisa's on 155 near Western in Guilderland (in the same plaza as the new "Juicy Burgers"). Hands down, the best pizza in the area!

Since Salvatore's in Gloversville closed a couple years ago, one of the Mannino brothers has since re-opened in Johnstown as "Vince's Pizza" and it tastes EXACTLY like the Salvie's I grew up on.

Best pie in the area hands down.

Bello Pranzo on Western Ave. in Albany--delicious! Variety Pizza on Madison also has its moments.

Smitty's in Voorheesville is a venerable institution with some serious pie. There's a reason the parking lot is packed every night it's open.

Enter their John Gray pizza.....mmmmmmmm

I vote Marisa's place on 155, Smith's Tavern in Vooheesville, and House of Pizza in Gloversville.

All damned fine pizza.

Out of area? Geno's in Long Beach on Long Island.

Westgate Pizza could be an easy first round bracket buster. Ask for it well done!
New Yorker on Wolf Road is a contender, having more new contenders is a good idea

is Marisa's good on rt 155?

I have to comment on this one. If you're going to mention pizza in Schenectady. Hand's down, by far, the best pie in town is MARINO'S on State St. They blow away Pizza King (which is very good, don't get me wrong) - For me a pizza joint should be judged my their cheese pizza. If you can get that right than I trust you to add a topping or two. Pizza should remain simple, thats what is beautifull about it. Marino's keeps it that way. Hand tossed, a small selection of high quality toppings. (like the loose sausage is made in house- they grade and blend their own cheese etc..) No calzones, No ziti on their Pizza (REALLY!?) cash only, no delivery, old school, sit down pizza joint. Try it, you'll never want ony other pizza. Oh yeah, you can get beer or wine to go with your pie... Even better!!

OMG.....Geno's in Long Beach on Long Island....

Best...Grandma Pie.......EVER.

Locally? I can't believe no one has mentioned Russo's in Amsterdam.

pasquales- new scotland ave.
the orchard pizza in albany

What, no love for Andriano's -- five (?) corners in Delmar?

Sure, it occasionally cuts the roof of your mouth, but it sure is tasty. And don't give me that Pizza King crap, I won't be happy til John brings back a proper Margherita (which means fresh basil). I live and work within walking distance of the King and Nico's.... Nico's used to be terrible. It's improved?

Marino's? Really? Mousetrap? I lived within a block of these two and avoided them for all but nostalgia.

And please don't buy pizza in midtown Manhattan. feh.

Every once in a while the Royal Fried Chicken and Pizza Restaurant (on the corner of Albany and Altamont in Sch.) has some astounding pie. It's really cheap (price and ingredients) down to the gov't cheese, but can be tasty. Their chicken is impeccable. Rough neighborhood, but open til 2:30 most nights and 3:30 weekends.

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