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The Fountain
TOP2012 RD2 Albany The Fountain closeup

Marisa's Place
TOP2012 RD2 Albany Marisa's closeup

TOP 2012: Round 2: Albany

TOP2012 RD2 Albany

Here we are, at the final stop in Round 2 of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- the Albany bracket.

The pizzerias in this head-to-head matchup of veggie pizzas (green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives):

The Fountain vs. Marisa's Place

How we got here: Marisa's posted a huge number in Round 1 -- an 81, the highest ever in the TOP. And The Fountain represented for taverns, putting a very respectable 68.

Tavern pizza hasn't had the best track record in the TOP, but The Fountain turned out quality in the opener. Could this be the year a tavern pizza breaks through?

Let's. Eat. Some. Pizza.

sunmark pizza banner

A quick note about how all this works:
The five judges -- Albany Jane, Daniel B, Jerry, Joe, and Renee -- 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 1/5 of those possible points. (We're using an adjusted scale this year to accommodate five judges.)

How this year's brackets were selected.

If you'd like to get a closer look at the pizzas, there are large-format closeups above -- scroll all the way up.

TOP2012 RD2 Albany judging

Round 2

Post game:

Yow, this was a close one.

Crust
A tie! "Squishy, nicely greasy," is how one judge described The Fountain's crust. Multiple judges noted that Marisa's crust was crisp, with good flavor, but a bit dry.

Sauce
Another tie! The Fountain's sauce was described as "rich, dense" with "so much garlic." Marisa's was praised for its "nice tomato flavor" -- but was "a bit sparse."

Toppings
This is where Marisa's pulled ahead. The judges liked The Fountain's "rich strips of onion" and "juicy peppers" (though one judge thought both those toppings were a bit undercooked). But The Fountain got marked down for "bland, hard olive slices" and its few (if any) mushrooms. Over to Marisa's, the judges praised the chop of the veggies, noting how the diced onions allowed a bit of onion in every bite. One commented that the (apparently canned) mushrooms "add nice savory flavor." And the olives were "juicy" if not necessarily very flavorful.

Overall
It's hard to overstate the closeness of this match-up. No judge's scoresheet had the pizzas separated by more than 4 points. Wrote one judge of the pizzas: "Both are about the same in terms of enjoyability." And commented another on the difficulty of judging two good pizzas of contrasting styles: "apples | oranges."

But Marisa's narrowly came out on top on four of the five sheets, gaining an edge because of its balance and mix of toppings.

Give The Fountain props, though -- it very capably carried the banner for taverns.

Up next

Marisa's Place advances to the semi-finals. The Guilderland shop will meet Mario's of Niskayuna.

Next week: The semi-finals -- featuring a type of pizza never before seen in the TOP.

The 2012 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union.

Earlier in Tournament of Pizza 2012
+ Results from Round 1 in Saratoga
+ Results from Round 1 in Schenectady
+ Results from Round 1 in Troy
+ Results from Round 1 in Albany
+ Results from Round 2 in Saratoga
+ Results from Round 2 in Schenectady
+ Results from Round 2 in Troy

Comments

This 2012 Tournament of Pizza had me wanting to refresh my memory of The Fountain's pizza, which I honestly think I hadn't had since the mid 1980s. So I ordered a small pie (plain cheese) and it was darned good. I liked the bready crust (and it was greasy and in a good sense, like something fried). My long time preference is for thin, crisp crusts (and why I usually go to Lou-Bea's for a slice), but it's nice to enjoy another style from time to time.

Are there rules for what qualifies as a "black olive"? Because if you want a really nice flavor on your pizza you would use olives that probably would technically be brown and don't require a can opener. Regardless, all of the ones in the photos look very much like the kind that come in a can. Their uniform shape is a dead giveaway. And those are about as enjoyable as eating styrofoam peanuts. If you were adding tasty olives to your pizza, they would be hand chopped, not so industrial looking.

If you wouldn't enjoy eating them directly out of the can, they don't belong on a pizza. Saute up some fresh mushrooms in garlic and olive oil (maybe even the olive oil that your olives were packed in). Chop up some nice olives. Caramelize some onions in butter. Saute some green peppers (more garlic wouldn't hurt here). If this sounds like too much work for a pizza, you don't know good pizza.

But in Albany Subway is routinely voted as the best sandwich shop, so I can't say I'm surprised.

@Code Monkey

No, YOU don't know good pizza. What you're describing is some kind of over-thought, gourmet food in pizza form.

If that's what you're looking for, fine. (And it seems that's what the TOP is geared towards, what with evaluating the ingredients separately, etc. Though for some reason they only review the type of pizza joints that will use canned olives. They should evaluate pizza from Max London's, etc.)

However, if you're looking for good old suck down three slices and a couple a beers pizza, then you are certainly not talking about a place that sautes their toppings in the oils of other toppings while carmelizing even more toppings.

What respectable pizza place churning out slices and pies is doing that?

Hey, lighten up! Code Monkey has all the answers, obvs.

Yeah you are definitely going the gourmet pizza route. Who cares about hipster gourmet bs? When comes to true New York brooklyn Pizza, Paesans owns it. Nothing compares.

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