TOP 2010: Round 1: Saratoga

TOP2010 Saratoga judging

Our esteemed judges, in action at the Spring Street Gallery.

As is tradition, Round 1 of the Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, opens in Saratoga. The matchups in this round of cheese pizzas:

Cusato's vs. Antipasto's

Nunzio's vs. Pope's

Can defending bracket champ -- and tournament runner-up -- Nunzio's hold off old-favorite Pope's? Who will prevail in a showdown of Clifton Park shops?

The judges got together at the lovely Spring Street Gallery for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

A quick note about how all this works: The four judges -- Renee, Albany Jane, Joe and Daniel B -- taste the pizza blind. That is, they don't know which pizza they're tasting during judging. They taste the competitors side by side. The scoring is on a 100 point scale -- each judge represents a quarter of those possible points.

Cusato's vs. Antipasto's

Cusato's Antipasto's
Crust 5 4
Sauce 6 3
Toppings 4 4
Overall taste 7 4
Totals 22 15

Post game:

So this was a bit of a grudge match. Maybe the judges were a little cranky at the opening. Maybe the two pizzas didn't stand up well to the travel from Clifton Park. Maybe the competitors were just having a bad day. It happens.

The judges liked Cusato's a little better, in part because of its "tangy" sauce. And it advances to the second round.

Nunzio's vs. Pope's

Nunzio's Pope's
Crust 15 11
Sauce 9 10
Toppings 11 12
Overall taste 28 19
Totals 63 52

Post game:

This was a closer match than it might at first appear. The judges were fans of Nunzio's crust (as they were in last year's competition). They described it as "soft and crispy" with "good chew." Pope's came out slightly ahead in the sauce and toppings categories, though. Of Pope's sauce, one judge wrote, "the herbs come through" and another called it "light" with a "hint of tanginess."

But in the end, the judges preferred the sum of Nunzio's slice, praising its balance of crust, sauce and cheese. The one thing that might have tripped up Pope's? The judges remarked that they would have liked more sauce on Pope's pizza.

Up next

Cusato's gets some luck and advances. If it had been matched up against Pope's and Nunzio's, it would be out. Returning bracket champ Nunzio's posts a solid score and will meet Cusato's in Round 2 (the sausage round).

Tomorrow: the Tournament of Pizza heads to Schenectady.

Special thanks to the Spring Street Gallery, which graciously provided us with space to taste pizza. It was easily one of the nicest judging spaces in the TOP's history.

The 2010 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, which now offers banking from mobile devices. They even have an app for iPhones and Android phones.


No pictures of the pizzas?

I'm horrified that Cusato's scored so low. I absolutely love their pizza.

@Go Phish: There was a mix-up with the pizza photos for this match-up. Sorry about that. We'll have photos for the other matchups.

Oh no - you have to order Pope's "crispy" to get the optimal crust. That should be on their menu, if not their default option. Deserves an asterisk :)

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