Thursday, October 9, 2014

TOP Semi Finals Part 2

Spicy (AOA link)

The judging moved on to the “spicy” pizzas. We had already sampled 4 large slices of pizza which was what we had been doing during Round 1. It was time to take a deep breath and double up because there were 4 more slices to be eaten. And they were needed, at least for me because my scorecard after the “Classic” round was essentially a dead heat.

5th and 50 Spicy: Chicken Parmesan Pizza
There’s no nice way to put this. This pie was everything I didn’t like about 5th and 50 from the first round. The rim of the crust was bready and tough. The rest of the crust acted as a stiff support to a layer of topping mush. What sauce you could taste had a really nice level of heat to it but the sauce had been absorbed into the rest of the topping of dry, flavorless ricotta and what seemed like breading that had come off the chicken. In looking around the room (not just the judges table), there were several plates with a slice of this pizza missing one or two bites. That said, one of the guests really liked it.  I don’t think 5th and 50 makes it into the Finals.

5th and 50 Spicy
Crust:2, Sauce:3, Toppings:1, Overall Taste:3, Total:9.

Marino’s  Spicy: Hot Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza
Marino’s went meat. And plenty of it. The crust was nicely browned but a little dense. The sauce was just ok and didn’t hold up to the zing of the meats. It was there, but you’re not going to be eating this pizza and think “mmm, delicious sauce” like on their Margherita. The heat of the zippy pepperoni and spiced sausage just overpowered the sauce. The cheese had good texture to it, but the flavor was also overpowered by the meats. The pepperoni had good bite to it and I wonder if this is a spicier pepperoni than their usual. This wasn’t pepperoni my kids would enjoy. The sausage was tasty too. And there was plenty of meat. The slice had a real heft to it. If you are into a spicy meat lovers kind of pizza, you will definitely enjoy this pie.

Marino’s  Spicy
Crust:3, Sauce:3, Toppings:4, Overall Taste:6, Total:16.

Marissa’s Spicy: Chicken Caccitore Pizza
I have no idea how Marissa’s did it, but on the night of the semi-finals, their crust traveled really well and was the closest to still being in the shop. I liked the sauce. It had a really nice depth of flavor and a slow burning spice/heat that came out after you were done with a bite. I thought there was a strong under current of kalamata olives to the sauce. I happen to like those olives, if you don’t I could see that as a turn off. The fresh mozzarella got a little tough in transport but the braised, shredded chicken was moist, tender and flavored by the sauce. I personally believe that the idea/concept of this pizza is inspired. I’ve never heard of it being done.

Marissa’s Spicy
Crust:3, Sauce:4, Toppings:3, Overall Taste:7, Total:17.

DeFazio’s Spicy: Buffalo Chicken Pizza
After this scored so well in past Tournaments, I had to go to the store and try it. And I enjoyed it. But tonight, something was off. The crust had nice color to it but it was a little bready and dense. The sauce is Franks Red Hot and there was a lot of it on this pie. I suppose that isn’t really a bad thing, but everything on the slice tasted like Red Hot.  The bites of chicken were moist, tender and tasted good if you picked them off the slice. Left on the slice, the chicken tasted like hot sauce. There was a little gorgonzola flavor in the back and I could see that melted mozzarella cheese I love, however the hot sauce was pretty much the only flavor. And it’s a shame because I know this pizza can be better. After all, this is one of the highest scoring pizzas in Tournament history, but not tonight. Any given pizza…on my scorecard, Down Goes the Champ.

DeFazio’s Spicy
Crust:3, Sauce:2, Toppings:4, Overall Taste:5, Total:14.

Here’s how I scored the eight pizzas in the Final Four with Marissa’s and Marino’s getting ready to fight it out for the title.

5th and 50

This is how I scored it, but this is a panel of judges so my points are just a quarter of the points available to any individual pizza. Looking at the All Over Albany write up of the semi finals, it looks like the other judges didn't like the flavor of Marissa's tomatoes on their Margherita as much as I did and depending on the person, I could see the kalamata olives in the Caccitore pizza taking a hit. Also, keep in mind that when you are totally nitpicking everything on a pizza, there is even variation between slices from the same pie. The crust is a little different, toppings not quite the same, a little more/less sauce here and there. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I certainly see how Marissa's got bumped out. Hell, on my score sheet, it's only a 4 point spread between the top three shops.

And if you want to nerd out on some numbers, Greg has kindly posted all of the tournament scores in the annual Crunching the Numbers post at All Over Albany. If you take a look at those stats, DeFazio's has put up some serious numbers in the tournament. DeFazio's, Marino's and Marissa's have the highest all time averages. Seems fitting that it came down to those three shops. It will be interesting to see what happens at the Finals this Saturday.

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