TOP 2009: Round 1: Schenectady

RD1 Schenectady

Will the King reign again?

Round 1 of the 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, moves on to Schenectady (earlier results from Saratoga). The matchups for this round of cheese pizzas:

Nico's vs. Ario's

Marino's Flying Pizza vs. Pizza King

Can Nico's hold off its competitor from Route 7? Will the Pizza King -- #2 in the entire tournament last year -- reign again?

There was only one way to find out. The judges assembled at Proctors for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

TOP2009 schenectady judging

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

Nico's vs. Ario's

Nico's Ario's
Crust 13 10
Sauce 10 8
Toppings 12 10
Overall taste 24 17
Totals 59 45

Post game:

This was a relatively even match-up -- it's just that Nico's consistently scored a few more points in each category.

The judges preferred Nico's thin crust -- though a few commented that it was too chewy. And while Nico's again had the edge in sauce, the judges did take notice of Ario's offering. They called it "spicy," "tangy" and "peppery." And that may have ultimately gone against Ario's -- one judge said the sauce was so "assertive" that the cheese just couldn't stand up to it.

Marino's vs. Pizza King

Marino's Pizza King
Crust 13 12
Sauce 14 11
Toppings 12 12
Overall taste 23 24
Totals 62 59

Post game:

And another defending bracket champ goes down! But the King would not go without a fight.

His Pizza Highness went slice to slice with Marino's on crust and toppings -- and even bested his opponent in the overall taste category by a point. But the sauce came up just short. Marino's scored its upset win with a sauce carrying strong oregano flavors and a "tart zestiness." The judges also praised Marion's sauce to crust ratio.

Pizza King may have just gotten a little unlucky here. The judges split 2-2 on overall scores. On another night, the King may very well have come out on top.

Up next

Flying high, Marino's heads into the second round for a match-up with Nico's. It'll be interesting to see how their sauces compare.

Tomorrow: the Tournament of Pizza heads to Troy.


Just to be a pedant... This is round one of schenectady ;) Hooray for titles!

Editors: Erf. Copy/paste fail. Thanks for the heads-up.

The aerial shot of three of us looks awesome! How did I not notice you guys snapping from that angle? Maybe I was beginning to enter my pizza coma at that point.

I agree with what was said earlier, that taking these slices to a neutral location deters from the experience. you guys aren't even getting your elbows dirty from the last group's pizza grease.

Another first-round upset! Somebody call Dick Vitale!!!! My bracket is busted!

@JO Any method will have its pros and its cons.

While I certainly agree there is something lost by taking the pizza away, there are also significant advantages.

Not least of which is being able to taste four slices back to back. To be able to directly compare crust and cheese and sauce, side by side, bite by bite, is a real eye opening experience. Taste memory is only so reliable. But there is no refuting direct comparison.

I'd be happy to talk about the other advantages of this format if you wish. But in the end, a tour and a tournament are two different things, that are looking to achieve two different ends. They can both exist within the same universe... and even within the same state.

You can't leave the shop. That's just wrong. You don't get the full pizza slice experience. I'm also a little disturbed by the positive remarks for chewy crust. It should be crispy, and hold its shape while holding a slice with one hand.

Can't Leave the Shop.....? How many millions of people do you think order pizza daily only to eat it in there living rooms?

I believe there a fewer margin of those who actually eat pizza in the shop it was purchased from.

I second JUBOGA's statement. We're not talking about sit down pizza restaurants here are we? Many such places I am familiar with don't even have a place to sit.

@anon, I don't think a pizza "should" be anything. If it works when you put it in your mouth, you are golden.

and if the slice is good, you won't forget it. This scoring is too rigid for me; I'm a lover, not a scientist. But I dig it. I'd love to see closeups of the pizzas.

Marino's is going to destroy Nicos - To me it's no contest.

Any pizza whose deliciousness is threatened by off-site consumption is, in my opinion, not much of a pizza to begin with.


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