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TOP2013 RD2 Albany pizza closeups

TOP2013: Round 2: Albany

TOP2013 RD2 Albany

Round 2 of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- comes to a close in the Albany bracket.

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

DC's - Albany - winner of the Round 1 Albany pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

Marisa's Place - Guilderland - not just the returning bracket champ, Marisa's won the whole tournament last year

So, this isn't exactly an enviable matchup for DC's. Marisa's has one of the highest shop averages in the TOP modern era. And the pizza it made for last year's final was fantastic.

But, hey, the Tournament of Pizza isn't settled in a spreadsheet. It's settled on a paper plate.

Let's get to it...

Saint Rose Tournament of Pizza ad 2013 in post

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.

TOP2013 RD2 Albany judging

Round 2 Albany

Post game

Down goes the champ. Holy. Moly.

Both shops started out strong in the crust category. Marisa's crust was described as "thin and crispy," with a few judges declaring it "perfect" and "my favorite crust, period." DC's won points with a crust described as "crispy, chewy," and "not too dense" that held up to the toppings.

Sauce ended up being the key category. DC's "thick" sauce was praised for having "good seasoning" and the flavor of herbs -- and judges noted its presence registered and worked well with the toppings. Marisa's sauce was described as "good" and "very nicely seasoned," but multiple judges were disappointed with either its amount ("needs more") or the way worked alongside the toppings ("mostly buried").

Marisa's bounced back in this category -- judges remarked its toppings were "crisp" and "well distributed," though a few thought the pizza was a bit too loaded with toppings. But it still fell a point short of its competitor. DC's toppings had "decent distribution" under "delightful" cheese. And a few of the judges really liked DC's use of red onions.

DC's pulls out the upset win, with one judge noting its "crust and sauce are stars" and another concluding its combination created a nicely "savory" pie. It's quite a feat to best the reigning tournament champ.

No shame here for Marisa's Place. It won on two of the five judges cards. And even though it maybe didn't turn out its best pie in this matchup, the Guilderland shop is very good at what it does. We still think about its string of excellent pizzas in previous matchups (especially that rusticana pizza).

Up next

DC's advances to semi-finals. It will face Mario's, out of the Schenectady bracket.

Next week: The Tournament of Pizza wraps up with the final four, and championship.

Thank you, thank you

Many thanks to the judges and everyone who's helped with logistics for the TOP this year. We appreciate it!

The 2013 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by The College of Saint Rose.


That DC's by Uptown Campus? They have the best mild wings in Albany and their humongous square pizza was always a hit among graduate students.

Way to go DC! I've been a fan of theirs for a while. Their pies really offer a face full of umami (more even than other pizzas).

But I was dubious about how they would do in the TOP. Partially, because their bottom crust is marred with the tell tale crosshatches of a pizza screen.

Usually Joe picks up on these things (and cares deeply about the importance of a pizza being cooked directly on the oven). I just hope he's holding the line.

I'm shocked! I'm stunned! I'm firmly in DC's camp, hubs is firmly in Marisa's...

I'm embarassed at how happy I am that we live close to both places so we can easily stuff our faces with their delicious pies!

Well that makes the rest of the tournament easy for me to root for. Marisa's is my pizza place when I am home, they are beyond wonderful. But DeFazios is my pizza place for work-lunch. Now I can root for their win this year.

Last years tournament was torture for me.

You guys aren't making this easy on me. Based on every experience I've had with DC I expected these guys to easily be knocked out in round 1. And, not only that, I keep giving them chance after chance to be good b/c of their location and they fail miserably every time. And now these results are going to make me try them again. Don't make me scream-out AOA Shatner-style.

DC's success is surprising me. I've been there numerous times for a slice (plain cheese so that's my comparison) because the location is convenient when my schedule in that area requires a quick, cheap bite. And I think it's a serviceable slice, but not outstanding enough to win the TOP, and not (for me) the umami Daniel B is savoring. And just to make sure I was remembering correctly, I stopped by yesterday. And it was just like I remembered it. And too much cheese for my taste in the ratio of crust/sauce/cheese, but I'm sure that would be a plus for "double cheese" lovers. I actually don't like a thick sheet of oozing mozz sliding off as I lift the hot slice to take the first bite. But that's me and I prefer the more austere thin type pizza anyway.. I think the sauce is actually quite good if all that greasy cheese ("delightful"?)didn't get in the way.

@chrisck - Forgive me for stating the obvious, but pies are different than slices.

In my heart of hearts I'm a slice person, and I would agree that DC isn't the best in that regard. But to gauge the experience of the pie, you have to order the pie.

I've been to plenty of pizza joints where the pizzas they make for slices and the pizzas they make for home delivery look like two entirely different things.

Plus expectations are different for slices. One really goes into it expecting a thin NY style experience. And you are right to suggest there is way too much cheese on DCs to perform well against that standard. But pizza takes many different shapes and forms.

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