TOP 2009: Round 1: Saratoga


The Spa City match-ups.

Round 1 of the 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, opens in Saratoga. The matchups in the cheese round:

D'Andrea vs. Venezia

Nunzio's vs. West Ave

Can defending bracket champ D'Andrea's hold off a challenge from the suburbs? Who will prevail in a showdown of westside shops?

The judges gathered at Mare in downtown Saratoga for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

(There's a new scoring system this year.)

D'Andrea vs. Venezia

D'Andrea's Venezia
Crust 1 9
Sauce 6 10
Toppings 5 12
Overall taste 6 20
Totals 18 51

Post game:

This was a shocker. D'Andrea's was last year's champ in the Saratoga bracket. But even good pizzerias have bad days, and it looks like things just didn't come together for the Caroline Street shop. The judges were pretty much disappointed across the board. The biggest complaint was that the slices -- the crust especially -- was too sweet.

Venezia fared much better. Judges described the Clifton Park shop's crust as thin and chewy. The sauce seemed to be the best part of the pie -- the judges called it "balanced" and "nicely salty." Said one judge of the pizza: "not bad, not amazing."

Nunzio's vs. West Ave

Nunzio's West Ave
Crust 17 6
Sauce 11 13
Toppings 11 10
Overall taste 28 23
Totals 67 52

Post game:

This was much better played match. The judges loved Nunzio's crust. One judge described it as "tasty" with "good crunch." Both the sauce and toppings categories were close. The judges were split on the strong oregano flavor of Nunzio's sauce, giving West Ave the edge there. One judge said the Ave's sauce was "fresh and tomatoe-y," another called it "bright" and another said it was "so sweet and lovely."

But in the end Nunzio's crust and overall taste were too much. One judge concluded that Nunzio's pie was "a nicely seasoned pizza." Said another of West Ave: "overall, a fine pie" but not "a standout."

Up next

Venezia got a lucky break in the opening round. Its 51 wouldn't have been enough to beat either Nunzio's or West Ave. But D'Andrea had an off today -- and Venezia advances to meet Nunzio's in Round 2 (the sausage round).

Tomorrow: the Tournament of Pizza heads to Schenectady.

Special thanks to Mare, which graciously provided us with space to taste pizza.


Hurray for Nunzio's! My pick to win it all this year. 2 for 2 in the office bracket pool!

Following the TOP closely so we'll know where to get pizza in any corner of the Cap. District. Eagerly awaiting the Schenectady showdown!

I agree on D'Andrea's -- I've never liked their pizza, 'cause it's weirdly sweet.

I sent my parents to D'Andrea's last year, and they too complained about the sweetness of the crust.

I think this is purely a personal taste thing, because for those who like it, it seems the sweetness is the reason. I know for me, the sweet crust is exactly the reason I love it!

Mama Mia's is the best pizza in Saratoga by FAR! I don't think you can get anything else like it between here and NYC.

D'Andreas, is a joke. It just happens to stay open late, pretty much the only thing notable about this joint. There slices are rarely fresh either, it looks like they sit out ALL day.

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