The TOP Semifinals


I Love NY (Troy) | Nunzio's (Saratoga) | Pasquale's (Albany) | Marino's (Schenectady)

The 2009 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, continues today with the much-anticipated semifinals. Here are the match-ups in this final four of broccoli ricotta white pizzas:

I Love NY vs. Nunzio's

Pasquale's vs. Marino's

Here's a quick recap of how the tournament got to this point. Pasquale's and Nunzio's posted tournament-high scores in Round 2 (80 and 74, respectively). Can they make it through this round to meet in the finals?

There's only one way to find out!

sunmark pizza banner

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

I Love NY vs. Nunzio's

TOP 2009 semis i love vs nunzios

I Love NY Nunzio's
Crust 20 13
Sauce 6 17
Toppings 7 15
Overall taste 19 30
Totals 52 75

Post game:

The broccoli-ricotta round presents a challenge in the sauce category, both for the pizzerias and the judges. The pizzerias have to find a way to keep their pizzas from being dry. And the judges have to judge how well the pizza holds up without traditional sauce.

I Love New York bolted out of the gate in this match-up, scoring a perfect 20 in the crust category. One judge called it a delicious combination of "crunch and chew." Another called it "my ideal crust." And yet another said it was "lovely and perfect."

But the wheels kind of fell off for I Love after that. Nunzio's scored a big margin in the sauce category. The judge's praised Nunzio's pie for having a good blend of spices and herbs that mixed with a thin, "pleasant" layer of oil between the crust and toppings. They felt I Love's pie came up short in this regard -- said one judge, "needs seasoning, salt, garlic, oregano, something."

Nunzio's also posted a strong score in the toppings category -- the judges liked the pink place's "fluffy" ricotta. I Love NY's broccoli didn't go over so well -- the judges uniformly said it was overcooked.

Despite a perfect crust score by I Love NY, Nunzio's was able to take the win and post the tournament's second highest mark on consistently strong scores across the board. Concluded one judge of Nunzio's: "A very tasty slice -- the garlic comes through and every element works without overwhelming the others."

Pasquale's vs. Marino's

TOP 2009 semis pasquales vs marinos

Pasquale's Marino's
Crust 15 13
Sauce 12 9
Toppings 10 11
Overall taste 21 21
Totals 58 54

Post game:

This match-up didn't provide the fireworks of the first. Pasquale's cornmeal crust continued to post high marks. And the New Scotland Ave shop's seasoning put it ahead in the difficult sauce category (the judges thought Marino's pie lacked seasoning).

And it was those two categories that put Pasquale's over the top -- because Marino's took the slight edge in toppings ("fluffy and creamy" ricotta) and tied in overall taste.

Ultimately, the judges came away a little underwhelmed. One called the match-up "lackluster."

Pasquale's just seasoned a little better.

Up next

Nunzio's -- the Saratoga upstart -- charges into the finals, while Pasquale's -- the defending champ -- stumbles. Has the door been opened for a new champion?

Results from the finals on Thursday.


I hate to see I Love NY lose on another broccoli pizza.

I never buy broccoli pizza despite loving broccoli because the pizzas always look gross no matter who makes it - for the reasons you gave, dry pizza and overcooked broccoli. I Love NY has yet to lose in a battle of 'real' pizza, though :D

Oh holy heck, broccoli ricotta pizza is one of my favorites. If any of the TOP judges have to drop out at this point (because of heart attacks, thunder-thigh-ism, sudden and uncontrollable lactose intolerance), I humbly offer my services as a replacement judge.

What are the toppings for the final?

Last year the last round was anything goes, let the pizzeria decide what they wanted to enter. I assume it'll be the same this year.

Go Pasquales! I just got pizza from you the other day and it was amazing as always! You also won over a skeptical first-timer!

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