The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:
Soho - Albany
Dino's - Albany
DC's - Albany
Andriano's - Delmar
The judges gathered to eat yet more pizza...
A quick note about how all this works:
The judges taste the pizzas blind. That is, they don't know which pizza they're tasting during judging. They taste the competitors side by side. Each judge assesses the pizzas by crust (5 points possible per judge), sauce (5 points), toppings (5 points), and overall taste (10 points). Each judge represents either 1/4 or 1/5 of the possible points, depending on the number of judges present. However many judges, all scores will be according to a 100-point scale.
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.
Round 1 pool
Solid, if not great, scores across the board.
The shop across the street from UAlbany's uptown campus won the pool with a consistent performance in each category. One judge described the DC's pizza's crust as "pillowy and yeasty, but sturdy enough not to flop." There's was a bit of a split by the judges on the sauce -- some found it "balanced" and "well seasoned", others thought it was a touch too sour. And many of the judges liked the combination of sausage and cheese -- the sausage with a "meaty" texture and a full-flavored cheese ("my favorite cheese"). Interestingly, DC's pizza got the top score on just one judge's sheet -- but it ranked highly enough, often second, on the other sheets to pile up enough points for the win.
This Delmar shop tied for second in the pool with Lark Street-area shop Dino's, though they reached that level in different ways. Andriano's was powered by its crust -- a few judges raved about it: "Awesome. Thin and tender all at the same time, poofy exterior" and "almost perfect." (Though a few others thought their portion's crust was a bit too tough.) And its sauce -- "velvety" and "balanced" -- got an appreciative, if not enthusiastic reception. What kept Andriano's from maybe taking the pool: toppings. The sausage -- which one judge compared to breakfast sausage -- didn't go over well. And while some judges appreciated the flavor of the cheese, others thought it overpowered the sausage.
Dino's was powered by its sauce, described as "salty, sweet, bright." But its crust was met with a lack of enthusiasm -- a few judges thought it lacked "yeasty" flavor. And it was ultimately kept from top of the group by toppings. A few of the judges found the sliced sausage "chewy" and the cheese failed to inspire.
This Lark Street staple didn't do badly -- it just didn't quite keep up with the pack in the judges' opinion. Holding it back: crust, which the judges described as "dry" and "lacking seasoning." The sauce scored relatively well, getting marks for being "sweet and zesty" as well as "nicely balanced." Perhaps as a result of the crust's texture, though, the judges were looking for more sauce. And the toppings also failed to inspire, though one judge was a fan of the cheese.
So DC's advances on the strength of a consistently solid performance. It will meet last year's overall tournament winner -- Marisa's Place -- in the second round.
Next week: The Tournament of Pizza loops back for the second round.
Thank you, thank you
Many thanks to everyone who's helped with logistics for the TOP this year, including Bridget, Bob, Peter, and Matt. We appreciate it!
The 2013 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by The College of Saint Rose.
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