TOP 2011: Round 1: Troy

TOP2011 RD1 Troy

The Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rolls along to the Troy bracket.

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...

sunmark pizza banner

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.

Guest judge

TOP2011 RD1 Troy christian noe Christian, probably wondering what he's gotten himself into.

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/ Mac-n-Cheese Bowl. Nighthawk's specializes in from-scratch comfort food.

Round 1 pool

Joe's Tavern Giuseppe's Red Front DeFazio's
Crust 10 11 10 16
Sauce 12 11 8 15
Toppings 9 10 12 15
Overall taste 22 24 24 31
Totals 53 56 54 77

Post game:

Joe's Tavern
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.

Red Front
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!"

Up next

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.

TOP2011 RD1 Troy judging

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.


Point 1: Very happy that DeFazio advances, although I knew they had nothing to worry about.

Point 2: I had Nighthawk Kitchen's "Scary Gary" sandwich at the Farmer's Market this weekend. Egg, cheese and bacon sandwich with grilled Buffalo Mac and Cheese on top! Seriously amazing sandwich! Two thumbs up, Christian!

I can't believe I actually verified this (we lal have our favorites, right?), but 77 points is the highest round one score in TOP history.

Ah, Joe's Tavern. I've probably eaten a Cadillac Escalade full of their pizza over the years (that's a lot). Growing up in Cohoes, it was the only pizza my hometown loving father (who also grew up in Cohoes) would allow in our house. When we called to place an order we only had to say our name, and the owner at the time, Helen, knew what to make. I spent a lot of quarters playing on the bowling arcade game and Pac-man in the back room while waiting for the pies to finish cooking. It's been through several owners since then, each putting their own unique spin on it. I'm just happy that it continues to remain open. I've always enjoyed their pizza, and I think my dad would be lost if they ever closed their doors for good!

i really cannot believe that Bacchus did not make the list for Troy.

No I Love this year?

it advances out of the first round every year..

I wish DeFazio's delivered to Albany... haven't had it since I was learning to be an engineer. Also, Nighthawk is the best guest judge!

Colleen and Ike
We all have our favorite shops (and I love both the two you mentioned), but I get frustrated when people complain about certain shops not being included. Both shops were in the general survey pool, so could have become the people's choice for contenders. The editors specifically stated why they didn't choose I Love, and I think it makes sense.

The system isn't perfect, but I think it's as fair and something this subjective can be.

i guess my point is that you call it the Troy bracket and you have places from Cohoes and Watervliet which are not Troy and are not even Rensselaer County.

@colleen - While I see you point, the title cities are obviously a note of general vicinity and the places listed within are those that are in a comfortable distance for the title area. Watervliet and Cohoes, although in Albany county, are not places that those working downtown or in the Colonie area are going to frequent. However, they are in an area convenient to the city of Troy. Obviously Guilderland is not Albany and Scotia is not Saratoga. Both, however, are within a convenient drive of their designated title city.
It would be silly and narrow-minded to exclude places just because their mailing address does not list the title city.

If you look really closely at that massive calendar in the last photo, you can see what EMPAC has planned for the Spring. Get your magnifying lens!

Glad to have the TOP in EMPAC again this year - here's hoping next year makes it a hat trick!

- Jason Steven Murphy
PR + Marketing Manager, EMPAC

Also see: anyone can make a blog. No reason you can't hold your own pie-off.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine