TOP 2009: Round 1: Albany

RD1 Albany

Will Pasquale's be best of the bracket again?

The final stop in Round 1 of the 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, is Albany. The last set of matchups in the cheese round:

The Fountain vs. Pasquale's

Marisa's vs. Little Anthony's

Can the neighborhood favorite take down last year's tournament champ (and New Scotland Ave neighbor)? Will Marisa's represent for the suburbs? Will Little Anthony's play big?

There's only one way to find out. Let's eat!

sunmark pizza banner

TOP2009 Albany judging

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

The Fountain vs. Pasquale's

The Fountain Pasquale's
Crust 9 12
Sauce 9 13
Toppings 9 16
Overall taste 20 22
Totals 47 63

Post game:

This was an interesting matchup because it pitted last year's tournament champ (Pasquale's) against the pizza place most suggested by the crowd (The Fountain). But the fan favorite just couldn't overcome Pasquale's steady execution. The judges praised Pasquale's sauce for its "bright" and "tomato-y" flavor. And they enjoyed its "pleasantly salty and greasy" cheese that had "a good balance" with the sauce.

Credit The Fountain for showing up to play. While the judges didn't exactly love any one part of its pie, they did give it relatively high marks for overall taste (just two points behind Pasquale's). And it's pub pizza, so there's a certain something that doesn't quite translate out of that context. Commented one judge about The Fountain's pizza: "Would be great with a pitcher of beer."

Marisa's vs. Little Anthony's

Marisa's Little Anthony's
Crust 12 7
Sauce 11 9
Toppings 14 12
Overall taste 25 15
Totals 62 43

Post game:

This was a pretty convincing win for Marisa's, the relative newcomer from Guilderland. It scored big with its crust. The judges praised it for its thinness, but also thought it could be a touch more flavorful. Even so, commented one judge of Marisa's slice: "thin and lovely."

Little Anthony's just didn't click with the judges, who said LA's sauce was maybe a bit too heavy on the garlic.

Up next

We're on to the Round of 8 -- AKA, the Sausage Round. Keep your eye on Nunzio's in the Saratoga bracket. It's 67 was the highest score in the first round.

Results start on Monday.


Go Pasquales! They have a print out on their front counter with the results from last year.

Maybe you guys should consider some kind of award the pizza places could hang up; good publicity for AOA and a seal of quality for the pizza place.

Woohoo! Pasquale's rules!


O - VER - RA - TED! [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]
O - VER - RA - TED! [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]

I first stumbled upon AOA last year, while searching for reviews a good place to buy pizza in Albany (I'd lived in Albs for four years and still couldn't find a decent place in this city). Anyway, I read the results from last year's tourney and went with my ladyfriend to Pasquale's....

Great, great place. I was more than pleased. They had to turn the light and heat on in the dining area for us, but otherwise a fantastic experience and the owners' are the nicest people. Personally, I can't afford the quality stuff too often because I'm a poor grad student (usually, I grab the $7 pie at Westgate Pizza, despite the cardboard crust). But when I want the good stuff, I head to Pasquale's. Good luck, I'm rooting for you.

ugh. I'm so annoyed a bracket was even wasted on Fountain pizza. There are so many other worthy places that coulda been contenders...

LOVE Marisa's! Great pizza, great service! I got out of my way to swing through there when I'm charged with bringing home the goods for Pizza Night.

I really hope they can continue to thrive in that location.

you don't have one lark street pizza listed, how can you call this an albany competition.

ny vote for the best pizza in albany area is sapienza's (sp?) on south pearl by the Times Union center. great crust, good ingredients. people are nice too!

Fountain is a wasted choice. HORRIBLE.

i think i owe Sandor a beer.

The pizza action is heating up. I like The Fountain *and* Pasqale's, so there was no "bad" result in that bracket. Good point about pub pizza. The Fountain has a fun, neighborhood-y atmosphere. Pasquale's is almost devoid of atmosphere, but they make a finer, if more expensive, pie.

Marissa's FTW!

I think Pasquale's is overrated. Every time I've eaten there I've been disappointed with the quality of the pie. Don't get me wrong they have real ingredients, but I have just never been impressed...There are much better places in Albany to get a pizza in my opinion.

As for the Fountain, I think its excellent pizza. To call it a wasted choice is just ignorant...You cannot argue with the sheer number of people who truly love Fountain pizza. What does that tell you? People know good food.

Sapienza on Pearl St. is the closest I've ever had to authentic 'New York Style' pizza in Albany.

Fountain is good food? C'mon.. Graney's offers better fare. Junior's too. Hill Street crushes them as well. All better options than the weakness offered by The Fountain.

Can't help that some folks enjoy marginalized food.

To respond to 'Chuckie'... If their was any "Good" pizza on Lark St. they would probably have been considerd. I work on Lark, lived there for ten years, I have four pizza places in walking distance and while I think two are 'decent' I would'nt call any of them great. When I go to my favorite pizza place, I always joke around telling them, if they opend a spot on Lark St. they'd put all the other spots out of business in a year.

The Fountain has declined, but it's also a different style of pizza. PJ's on Ontario & Livingston is probably the best overall pizza in Albany, but they are in the ghetto and only open for a few hours a day.

No pizza place around here would stay open for more than a week in NYC. The pizza situation in Albany is truly sad.

with all due respect, vast numbers of people like both McDonald's and Disney-themed merchandise, Disney movies and Disney theme parks, but it doesn't mean they are of good *quality* simply because "sheer numbers" of people like them. (not to harsh on either Mickey D's or Disney..just using easy examples of institutions beloved--and reviled--by many.)

I don't care if you hate the fountain, or any other restaurant for that matter, every one deserves a chance.

this especially hurts, because I left Albany for the Pacific Northwest a few months ago.

That being said, the pizza here is AWFUL. Not even serviceable.... it really, really sucks. And they think I'm being a snooty new yorker. No. I'd hate it even if I wasn't from the NE.... sourdough crust? awful sweet sauce? no thanks.

Sapienza and paesans were my faves, but I'm looking forward to see who wins the Albany bracket.

Pasquale's is a nice place but its not a place to pick up a quick slice that you can eat in the car- most of their offerings feature toppings that are going to fall in your lap if you try to eat a slice one handedly. This is NOT casual student pizza or pub pizza, this is Meal Pizza.

I have only one complaint- they never seem to be open any time I'm passing by on New Scotland.

I'm not surprised the Fountain lost.

I had a pleasant time there with an old friend, liked the beer, but was not impressed at all with the pizza. Would never recommend it.

I have a deep understanding of the divide between the Fountain and Pasquale's. It hasn't affected my marriage yet, but let's just say it's good that my wife has other redeeming qualities.

There are lots of factors that can make food more enjoyable than just its taste. The Fountain has those factors in spades. And that's fine. But seriously, if you actually think that the Fountain has better tasting *cheese* pizza than Pasquale's (inclusive of crust, sauce and cheese), I highly recommend the following exercise:

Before your next pizza at the Fountain, pop into Pasquale's for a cheese slice. It's only a block away. Pay no attention to the atmosphere or other trappings of the place, just on the pizza. Make sure you remind the clerk to heat it up for you (sometimes they need a bit of nudging).

Then, with Pasquale's fresh in your mind, head over to the Fountain and get their cheese pizza. Wait until you've had your first slice before you dig into your pitcher of beer.

I'm betting that the head-to-head comparison will change your mind, despite the difference in styles. That is, unless you happen to subjectively prefer a heavy mound of cheese on your pizza - in which case, for a more fair comparison you should ask for extra cheese at Pasquale's. But I cannot vouch for that.

Maybe it's a lot of food, but it's all in the name of science. Right?

Fountain tastes better with checkered tablecloths and a jazz band.

ugh, science... that word takes all enjoyment out of eating a slice.

I live a block away from Pasquales.

Really is heaven in pizza form.

I've worked at the Fountain on and off for 6 years...Still don't like the pizza. Maybe it's because I end up smelling like it every night. If you go there get the Eggplant Parm! Yum!

I agree, HEAVEN! And screw just a random slice to eat in your car, head to Lark St. for that! You gotta order a whole pie, even just a 6 cut. Ive been eating there for years now and the pizza, weather I order for pick up or if I dine in, is always AMAZING! Fresh, crunchy, and mmmmm mmm mmmmm soooooooo good!

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