Tournament of Pizza 2011

TOP2011: The Final

TOP2011 defazios vs 5thand50

DeFazio's from Troy vs. 5th and 50 from Scotia

We have finally reached the end of the long road that is the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. And we have a prime matchup here in the final (bracket):

DeFazio's (Troy) vs. 5th and 50 (Schenectady)

Both shops are coming off solid wins in the semi-finals, each with a score in the 70s. DeFazio's was the overall tournament runner-up last year. And 5th and 50 has quite a claim -- it knocked off Marino's, last year's overall champ.

As is TOP tradition, the shops were allowed to pick which pizza to enter in the final. And as we've seen in past years, having that choice hasn't always been a good thing. Would this year's competitors choose wisely?

Off to the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Airport to taste some pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP2011: The Semi-finals

TOP2011 semi-finals

Here we are with just four pizzerias remaining in the the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The semi-finals line up as such (bracket):

5th & 50 (Schenectady) vs. Marisa's Place (Albany)

DeFazio's (Troy) vs. Mama Mia's (Saratoga)

The pizzas for this round: sausage, peppers, and onions. We were inspired by Marino's winning pizza last year.

Let's head to the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Airport to taste some pizza!

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TOP2011: crunching the numbers

TOP2011 score distribution all years

A distribution of the pizza scores from 2009, 2010, and 2011 (so far).

Now that we have about 2.5 tournaments-worth of scores on the 100-point scale from the Tournament of Pizza, we thought it'd be interesting (well, probably more fun than interesting) to crunch the numbers on those scores.

So, here's the results of that crunching: highests, lowests, averages, and all that...

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Albany

TOP2011 RD2 Albany

Albany is the last stop in Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The pizzerias vying for a spot in the sem-finals in this matchup of pepperoni pizzas:

Pizzeria Sapienza (Albany) vs. Marisa's Place (Guilderland)

How we got here: Sapienza and Marisa's separated themselves from the pack with two solid scores -- a 71 and 69, respectively.

This is probably the most even Round 2 matchup of the tournament. Who will prevail? There's only one way to find out...

Let's eat some pizza!

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Troy

TOP2011 RD2 Troy

The Collar City is the next stop for Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Giuseppe's (Watervliet) vs. DeFazio's (Troy)

How we got here: DeFazio's posted one the highest ever first round scores, a 77. Giuseppe's grabbed a spot in Round 2 by outstretching Joe's Tavern and Red Front.

So, DeFazio's is the favorite here. Can Giuseppe's pull the monster upset?

We're back at EMPAC for tasting...

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP2011 RD2 Schenectady

Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, rolls along to Schenectady. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Marino's (Schenectady) vs. 5th and 50

How we got here: Marino's posted a solid 70 in opening round pool play. 5th and 50 squeaked into the second round by winning the tie break with Mario's after both posted 68s.

This is an interesting matchup -- Marino's is the returning overall TOP champ. 5th and 50 won Pizzageddon (or whatever it was called) at Proctors and scored well in the first round.

We head back to Anthology Studio on State Street in Schenectady for the tasting...

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TOP 2011: Round 2: Saratoga

TOP2011 RD2 Saratoga

We're back to Saratoga for the first matchup in Round 2 of the 2011 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The pizzerias facing off in this round of pepperoni pizzas:

Mama Mia's vs. Amore

How we got here: Mama Mia's posted one of the best-ever first round scores with a 75 in opening round pool play. Amore went through after edging out Marino's (Saratoga) and Clifton Park Pizza for the second spot with a 53.

This is on the of the wide open brackets because there's no returning winner. But Amore now occupies of the location of Nunzio's, last year's bracket champ. Could that be an advantage? Or will Mama post another a big score?

We're back at the Case Center on the campus of Skidmore College for the tasting...

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Albany

TOP2011 RD1 Albany

The Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- makes its final Round 1 stop in Albany.

The pizzerias in this opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:

Crowd pick: Hill Street Cafe - Albany
Renee's pick: Pie Hole - Albany
Committee pick: Pizzeria Sapienza - Albany
Committee pick: Marisa's Place - Guilderland

This bracket is wide open because Pasquale's -- the two time overall tournament champ that dominated the Albany bracket for so many years -- is no longer in business.

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered for the final Round 1 tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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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

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2011 RD1 Schenectady

The next stop in the the Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- is Schenectady.

The pizzerias in the opening round pool competition of cheese pizzas:

Returning champ: Marino's - Schenectady
Crowd pick: Pizza King - Schenectady
Renee's pick: Mario's - Niskayuna
Committee pick: 5th and 50 - Scotia

This is probably the toughest bracket in the tournament. There's the returning overall champ (Marino's), a former finalist (Pizza King), and a newcomer that won a different contest (5th and 50).

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at the lovely Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2011: Round 1: Saratoga

TOP2011 RD1 Saratoga

That most august tradition -- the Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- opens in Saratoga. And, as you well know, Round 1 is a contest of cheese pizzas. Simple? Perhaps -- but simple things are often the hardest to do well.

The pizzerias in the opening round pool here:

Crowd pick: Marino's - Saratoga
Renee's pick: Mama Mia's - Saratoga
Committee pick: Amore - Saratoga
Committee pick: Clifton Park Pizza - Clifton Park

There is no returning champ because Nunzio's is no longer in business. That leaves a wide open bracket. Who will step up?

The judges -- plus our guest judge -- gathered at the Case Center on the campus of Skidmore College for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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Tournament of Pizza 2011 judges

top 2011 judging

A glimpse over the shoulder of a TOP judge.

We need two things for the Tournament of Pizza: pizzas and judges.

Here's the lineup of pizza shops in this year's Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union.

And here is the panel of judges -- which includes a new judge, and a surprise or two (or three or four)...

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Tournament of Pizza 2011 brackets

marino's schenectady winning pizza 2010

The pizza that won the whole thing for Marino's in Schenectady last year. You know the one thing harder than winning the Tournament of Pizza? Winning it twice.

Toss the dough! Season the sauce! Slice the pepperoni! Ready the antacid!

The Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, is back!

This year's field is more open than any we've had in the history of the TOP. Two repeat bracket champs -- Pasquale's in Albany and Nunzio's in Saratoga -- are no longer in the pizza business, and that's opened the field for new competitors. And new winners.

Also this year: a new format for the first round!

Here's a breakdown of this year's brackets...

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Crowd picks for Tournament of Pizza 2011

pizza king

Could there be a TOP without Pizza King?

tournament of pizza badge smallCrowd voting for the 2011 Tournament of Pizza field ended last night -- and the results are in.

Here's how the brackets shape up so far...

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Tournament of Pizza 2011 voting

i heart pizza

You gotta love it.

The 2011 edition of the Tournament of Pizza will soon be here. The selection committee is currently assembling this year's field. And we need your help.

This year's brackets will include:
+ The two finalists from last year -- Marino's in Schenectady, DeFazio's in Troy
+ Four selections made by judge emerita Renée McAllister. (Does this mean we have a new judge this year? Suspense.)
+ Six selections by the committee -- four in each bracket, plus two for the (sadly) non-returning bracket champs (Pasquale's in Albany, Nunzio's in Saratoga).

That leaves four spots in the tournament, which will be chosen by crowd voting. The pizzeria with the most votes in each bracket will get a spot in the field.

The ballot for this year's field is after the jump -- as are Renee's picks.

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