The pizzerias in this opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:
Returning champ: DeFazio's - Troy
Crowd pick: Giuseppe's - Watervliet
Renee's pick: Joe's Tavern - Cohoes
Committee pick: Red Front - Troy
The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at EMPAC on the RPI campus...
A quick note about how all this works: The four judges -- Albany Jane, Daniel B, Jerry, and our guest judge -- 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.
Our guest judge for the Troy bracket is Christian Noe, the owner of Nighthawk's Kitchen, which you might have seen at the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market. He was also a winner at the 2011 Table Hopping/timesunion.com Mac-n-Cheese Bowl. Nighthawk's specializes in from-scratch comfort food.
Round 1 pool
|Joe's Tavern||Giuseppe's||Red Front||DeFazio's|
One judge had Joe's scored #2 on his/her card -- but the other three judges weren't big fans. The stumbling block seems to have been Joe's cheese, which one judge described as "really hard," another called it "rubbery" and another "almost too seasoned." Commented one judge: "Please go a little lighter on the herbs." A tough break for the spot tucked away in Cohoes.
The Watervliet shop was able to just grab the second spot in the pool with consistent ratings across the categories. One of the judges' most common remarks: crust was underdone. Giuseppe's did get praise for the "warm flavors" of its slice, and the judges noted its "unusual" "chunky" sauce.
There were some high expectations for Red Front after its strong showing in TOP 2009, but it just couldn't gather enough points. Most of the judges weren't fans of RF's thicker crust, though one called it "pleasantly chewy." Comments on the amount of sauce ranged from "judiciously applied" to "hard to find." Two judges remarked that it reminded them of school lunch pizza. Still, Red Front is a Troy institution and we're sure will be for many years to come.
Last year's overall tournament runner-up brought some serious game, posting the highest score of this year's tournament so far. Judges praised DeFazio's "smoky and crisp" crust that was "fantastic.". They gave a thumbs up to its "balanced" sauce. Said one judge of the cheese: "The most complex, almost like several cheeses, very flavorful." And concluded another judge about DeFazio's slice: "A pizza that was clearly made by someone who cares!"
So, DeFazio's storms into the second round, where it's joined by Giuseppe's. We'll have a cross-river showdown in Round 2.
Tomorrow: Round 1 of the Tournament of Pizza concludes in Albany.
Thank you, thank you
Many thanks to EMPAC -- especially Jason Steven Murphy -- for allowing us to once again hold the TOP in its beautiful building. And thank you also to guest judge Christian Noe from Nighthawk's Kitchen (the guy makes his own hot dogs!).
The 2011 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union.
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