Tournament of Pizza 2012

A trophy for the Tournament of Pizza champ

marisas place exterior TOP trophy

Marisa's Place's Alfredo Musumeci and Albert Pistana, with AOA Mary and David Weinstein from TOP sponsor Sunmark Federal Credit Union.

We stopped by Marisa's Place in Guilderland Thursday to award them the trophy for winning this year's Tournament of Pizza.

This was Marisa's first tournament championship. And even though the shop has competed many times before -- and turned out some very good pizza (average score: 67.5) -- we didn't know much about the story behind Marisa's. So we stayed a few minutes to talk with owner Alfredo Musumeci.

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: The Final

Tournament of Pizza 2012 Marisa's vs DeFazio's

Marisa's Place vs. DeFazio's.

After 28 pizzas from 16 pizza places, we're now down to just two pizzas and two shops.

It's the final of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The match-up in this championship round:

DeFazio's (Troy bracket) vs. Marisa's Place (Albany bracket)

How we got here: DeFazio's blew the roof off during its semi-final match with Amore (Saratoga), scoring a TOP-record 82 with its Buffalo chicken pizza. And Marisa's posted a solid score of 69 in its matchup with Mario's of Niskayuna.

Despite posting a string of excellent scores, and two previous appearances in the final, DeFazio's has never won the Tournament of Pizza. With its huge score in the last round, the Troy shop has to be the heavy favorite in this final match. But Marisa's is a formidable opponent -- with a set of its own strong performances.

Can DeFazio's finally claim the crown? Or will Marisa's Place take the title?

Bring on the pizza!

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TOP 2012: Crunching the numbers

DeFazio's Buffalo chicken pizza

The highest scoring pizza of this -- or any other -- Tournament of Pizza.

Updated

Now that we're almost finished with our fourth Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, of the modern era (using the 100 point scale), we have a lot of numbers we can crunch.

So, here are a bunch of stats this year's tournament -- and tournaments past -- highs, averages, breakdowns. And, for the first time ever, stats for judges...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: The Semi-finals

Tournament of Pizza 2012 semi-finals

We've arrived at the final four in the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union. The match-ups in this showdown of bracket winners:

DeFazio's (Troy) vs. Amore (Saratoga)

Mario's (Niskayuna) vs. Marisa's (Guilderland)

How we got here: DeFazio's topped its fellow downtown Troy shop, I Love | Amore gutted out a win against Pope's | Mario's represented for Niskayuna in beating Schenectady's Nico's | and Marisa's held off a tough tavern challenge from The Fountain.

Now these four face a challenge never before taken on in the TOP: Buffalo chicken pizza.

Yep, things just got real. Ready, set, pizza!

sunmark pizza banner

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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

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TOP 2012: Round 2: Troy

TOP2012 RD2 Troy

Hello, Collar City. Round 2 of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- finds itself back in your warm embrace.

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

DeFazio's vs. I Love

How we got here: DeFazio's posted a big number in the Round 1 pool (78) and I Love joined it in advancing with a respectable score of its own (64).

DeFazio's has pretty much owned this bracket for the last few years -- can I Love end the domination?

Let's go back to the Arts Center of the Capital Region for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP 2012 RD2 Schenectady

The second round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- stops back in the Electric City.

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

Mario's vs. Nico's

How we got here: Nico's and Mario's both separated themselves from the other shops in this bracket with scores of 74 and 64. Those are very good totals. And they ousted the defending tournament champ from the contest.

Now, it's the always difficult veggie pizza.

We head to Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady. Pizzaaaaaaa...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 2: Saratoga

Tournament of Pizza 2012 RD2 Saratoga

Round 2! The 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- kicks off its second round back in Saratoga.

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

Amore vs. Pope's

How we got here: Amore and Pope's both posted solid scores -- 61 and 69, respectively -- in besting last year's bracket champ, Mama Mia's, and the mystery chain, Pizza Hut, in pool play.

Now they go crust-to-crust on veggie pizzas, a tricky challenge in tournaments past. All those veggies provide a lot of opportunity for a misstep.

Let's eat some pizza! Again, we go to the Case Center on the campus of Skidmore College...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Albany

TOP2012_RD1_Albany.jpg

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- heads for home with a final stop in Albany.

The pizzerias in the Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: Marisa's Place - Guilderland
Crowd pick: The Fountain - Albany
Tough luck: Pizzeria Sapienza - Albany
Mystery entry

Marisa's Place has turned out a series of high quality pizzas in the Tournament of Pizza -- though it's never won the championship. The other shops are facing a formidable competitor.

The judges gathered for the tasting...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Troy

TOP2012 RD1 Troy

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rounds third with a visit to the Collar City.

The pizzerias in the Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: DeFazio's - Troy
Crowd pick: Bacchus - Troy
Tough luck: I Love - Troy
Mystery entry

DeFazio's has been the tournament runner-up two years in a row -- is this year it finally takes the title? It'll have to get through Round 1 first.

The judges assembled at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in downtown Troy...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2012 RD1 Schenectady

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- rolls ahead to Schenectady.

The pizzerias in Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: 5th and 50 - Scotia
Crowd pick: Nico's - Schenectady
Tough luck: Mario's - Niskayuna
Mystery entry

5th and 50 is not just the defending bracket champ -- it won the whole the tournament last year. Its title defense starts now.

The judges got together at Anthology Studio in downtown Schenectady...

sunmark pizza banner

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TOP 2012: Round 1: Saratoga

TOP2012 RD1 Saratoga

The opening round of the 2012 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union -- starts in Saratoga.

The pizzerias in Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Returning champ: Mama Mia's - Saratoga Springs
Crowd pick: Pope's - Saratoga Springs
Tough luck: Amore - Saratoga Springs
Mystery entry

The judges gathered at the Case Center on the campus of Skidmore College...

sunmark pizza banner

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Tournament of Pizza 2012 brackets

i heart pizza

It's that time.

If the leaves are turning, and the air is crisp, it must mean that most august of traditions has returned.

That's right -- the Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, is back.

Lots of plotlines for this year's field: Can 5th and 50 repeat as TOP champ? Will this finally be DeFazio's year? Who are the mystery entrants in this year's field?

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

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Tournament of Pizza 2012 field voting

TOP2011 final 5thand50 closeup

5th and 50's tournament-winning chicken parm pizza from last year.

Voting's closed! Brackets will be announced toward the end of September!

The 2012 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 four finalists from last year -- 5th and 50 (Schenectady bracket), Marisa's Place (Albany bracket), DeFazio's (Troy bracket), and Mama Mia's (Saratoga bracket).
+ Four mystery selections that will be revealed to no one except the Editors -- not even the judges.
+ Four "tough luck" pizza shops -- pizzerias that have turned out pizzas with very good scores but for whatever reason didn't win their bracket (and weren't selected by crowd voting).

That leaves four spots to be filled by crowd voting. The pizzerias with the most votes in each bracket will earn a spot in the 2012 TOP.

The ballot for this year's field is after the jump. Voting closes at noon on Friday.

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The Scoop

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