Tournament of Pizza 2013

DeFazio's (finally) gets a Tournament of Pizza trophy

Rocco DeFazio with Trophy.jpg

Rocco DeFazio, with his 2013 TOP Trophy

We started to refer to them as the Susan Lucci of the AOA Tournament of Pizza -- always good enough to be nominated but never quite able to take the award. But this year, DeFazio's of Troy took first prize in the TOP. And this week we stopped by to award them their first Tournament of Pizza trophy.

Owner Rocco DeFazio, who inherited the business from his parents, says having what it takes to make it to the finals as often as they have comes from a family philosophy -- the constant desire to improve things.

Well, that and the secret of the DeFazio's crust.

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TOP 2013: The Final

TOP2013 Final composite

DC's vs. DeFazio's

Twenty-eight pizzas down. Two to go. It's the final of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose.

The match-up in this final pairing:

DC's (Albany) vs. DeFazio's (Troy)

How we got here: DC's posted a good score in the semi-final meat lover's match-up with Mario's from Niskayuna. And DeFazio's put up a very strong score -- tied for fifth highest in TOP history -- to withstand a solid challenge from Mama Mia's of Saratoga.

And there are compelling storylines in the final matchup:
+ This is DeFazio's third straight year in the final -- can the Troy shop finally take the title?
+ On the other end, this is DC's first year in the tournament. The shop across from UAlbany upset last year's tournament champ -- Marisa's Place of Guilderland -- in Round 2. Can it rally for one more big win?

Let's eat some pizza.

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TOP2013: Crunching the numbers

TOP2013 DeFazios veggie pizza closeup

DeFazio's has posted a string of high scores in the TOP. But given the history of veggie pizzas, the Troy shop's record-tying score this year in the veggie round was a bit of a surprise.

We're almost to the finish line in the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose. Here's a little something to snack on before the result from the final.

The Tournament of Pizza is now in year 5 of the modern 100-point scale era. So we have a lot of numbers piled up from the tournament -- and a lot of stats. Let's break some of them down...

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TOP2013: Semifinals

TOP2013 semifinals composite

We've arrived at the final week of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose. And it's time for the semi-finals.

The match-ups in this final four:

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

DC's (Albany) vs. Mario's (Schenectady)

DeFazio's is coming off a huge performance in the second round, posting a tournament-record-tying high score. Mama Mia's grabbed the opportunity afforded it by fate. DC's posted the upset of the tournament so far in knocking off overall defending TOP champ Marisa's Place. And Mario's finds itself in the semis for the second straight year after a low-key win in Round 2.

The last round was veggie pizzas. On the crust for this year's semi-finals is a version of the "meat lover's" pie: sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, and ham.

Bring it on.

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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...

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TOP2013: Round 2: Troy

TOP2013 RD2 Troy

With two down and two to go in Round 2, the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- heads back to Troy.

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

Deli & Brew - Troy - winner of the Round 1 Troy pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

DeFazio's - Troy - the returning bracket champ, coming off a first round bye

You gotta think DeFazio's is the favorite here -- it's posted a series of great scores in past tournaments (without ever taking the overall title). But Deli & Brew, known for its subs, posted a very respectable score in Round 1. It faces a great challenge -- but there's also great opportunity.

Once again we head to the Arts Center of the Capital Region...

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TOP2013: Round 2: Schenectady

TOP2013 RD2 Schenectady

The 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- continues its Round 2 tour with a stop in the Schenectady bracket.

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

Giovanni's - Scotia - winner of the Round 1 pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

Mario's - Niskayuna - the returning bracket champ, who had a first-round bye

Can the Scotia shop wrest the bracket from its fellow suburban competitor? Or will the ever-treacherous veggie round be too tall a challenge?

We head back to the headquarters of the Mop & Bucket Company...

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TOP2013: Round 2: Saratoga

TOP2013 RD2 Saratoga

The 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- loops back around to start Round 2 in the Saratoga bracket.

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

Pizza Works - Saratoga - winner of the Round 1 pool of new-to-the-tournament shops

Mama Mia's - Saratoga - not last year's bracket winner, but occupying the slot because last year's winner is no longer open (MM won the bracket in 2011)

Back to the Case Center on the campus of Skidmore College...

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TOP2013: Round 1: Albany

TOP2013 RD1 Albany

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- makes its final stop in Albany.

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...

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TOP2013: Round 1: Troy

TOP2013 RD1 Troy

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- heads toward the final turn with a stop in Troy.

The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Pizza DaVinci - Troy
Deli and Brew - Troy
Elia's - East Greenbush
Goomba's - East Greenbush

The judges gathered at the Arts Center of the Capital Region...

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TOP2013: Round 1: Schenectady

TOP2013 RD1 Schenectady

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- continues with the Schenectady bracket.

The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

Visco's - Scotia
Giovanni's - Scotia
I Love NY Pizza of Schenectady - Schenectady
Pizza Buono - Niskayuna

The judges gathered at the Mop & Bucket Company studio...

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TOP2013: Round 1: Saratoga

TOP2013 RD1 Saratoga

The opening round of the 2013 Tournament of Pizza -- sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- starts in Saratoga. (As is tradition.)

The new-to-the-tournament pizzerias in this Round 1 pool competition of sausage pizzas:

LaBella - Halfmoon
Pizza Works - Saratoga
Publik House - Ballston Spa
Pizza Nook - Malta

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

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TOP2013: The judges

TOP2013 judges overhead pizza plates

It requires an enthusiastic appetite.

Ingredients needed for the Tournament of Pizza: brackets, pizzas, and judges.

Here are the brackets.

And without ado -- either of the further or much variety -- here's the panel of judges for this year's TOP...

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Tournament of Pizza 2013 brackets

tournament of pizza 2013 badge

Feel the warm autumn sun. Breathe in the cool autumn air. Smell... the pizza.

Yes, the seasons are changing and that can only mean one thing.

That most august of traditions -- the Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by The College of Saint Rose -- has returned.

Here's a breakdown of this year's field, which include a few new twists...

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