“There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.”
I love the ability to try different kinds of food from the area in one fell swoop, one place, everyone brought together in one place and I can compare them properly. I saw Pizza Wars was coming up at Proctors Theater in Schenectady & I felt I had to be there. $5 and you get all you can eat pizza from a number of local pizza places. I wanted to go last year but the line alone was daunting- inside the Proctors arcade all the way outside to a little further than Aperitivo. This year wasn’t as bad. It ran from 5:00PM-9:00PM on Wednesday February 2nd and in trying to beat the line I figured the best time to show up would be right at 5:00PM as others are on their way from work.
I waited in line for no longer than 10-15minutes, gave $5 and got a “Pizza Passport” (which I still don’t understand the point of) and our ballots asking which is the best pizza out of cheese, pepperoni, specialty and gluten-free. We, my mother and I, went into the GE Theater and in mass chaos we attempted to reach a booth to get some pizza. We started at Ottimo Pizza (Rosa Rd, Schenectady). I was hungry and for the first piece of pizza, I didn’t hate it. It was plain cheese, the only kind they offered. They were a bit unorganized, there was only a small computer printed out sign saying who they were and a lone woman trying to hand out quarter pieces of pizza to the hungry masses. I hate to say it but during my wait to try Price Chopper pizza, I had already forgotten it’s flavor, it wasn’t too memorable a slice.
Price Chopper was probably the most surprising to me. I would have figured that Price Chopper pizza would taste like frozen supermarket pizza, only because that’s what I’m used to getting from supermarkets but I was impressed. I have heard rumors that “Price Chopper’s pizza has gotten better!” and for the first time, I witnessed it firsthand. They offered an Italian specialty pizza with genoa salami, olives, sausage, onions, etc which I commented to them “It’s like the kitchen sink pizza” and they responded “this is better than the kitchen sink!” Touche. They not only had my vote for specialty but I will be sure to grab one of those pizzas for my next party!
The next pizza was Visco’s Vley Road Pizzeria (Vley Rd, Scotia). Again, as with the first, I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t the best slice, little too greasy for my liking. Plus, I was still coming off the delicious high of the Price Chopper Italian pizza.
Next was Bombas (Ballston Rd, Scotia) and I was so excited to come across my first gluten free pizza but there was no way I was going to get remotely close to them to try ANY of their pizza so I apologize but I wasn’t able to try it.
I was able to get to 5th and 50th Pizzeria & Deli (N Ballston Ave, Schenectady) and I saw that they too had gluten free pizza. They advertised on their menu that they are 2011 Proctors Pizza War Winner & 2011 AllOverAlbany.com Pizza Tournament Champion and I can see why. Their gluten free pizza was really good, I was surprised it was gluten free! By the time I got to the crust, I could tell a difference in the dough but only in the texture, not the flavor. My favorite was their greek pizza; throw feta on something and I have to give it a chance! They didn’t have the TBR pizza, it was on its way (white-tomato, bacon, ranch) but I wouldn’t have minded to give that one a chance.
Next to them was Newest pizza (Albany St, Schenectady) who was stuck in the corner and had to have one of the workers bring around a tray just so we could get a taste. This was even more greasier than the other. I understand that pizza needs a sense of greasiness in order to get that great flavor but it shouldn’t be dripping as I’m trying to enjoy it. With all that grease, I expected overpowering flavor and it didn’t have it. If I’m wasting calories on all of that grease, I expect it to be my favorite pizza ever.
Next was somewhere I was pretty familiar with, Marotta’s pizza (Albany St, Schenectady). I loved the pizza back when it was Giovanni’s and located across the street from where it is now. This was probably hands down my favorite cheese slice. The had a spice in there that I could taste on the crust that gave it it’s own kind of flavor separate from the cheesey goodness. Yummm!
Union Pizza (Nott St, Schenectady) may have been one of my least favorite but oddly, not because of flavor. Personally, I like the cheese on my pizza to be melted, I want one bite of the perfect ratio of cheese, sauce, and dough. This pizza disappointed me because it looked as if the cheese was just a slab laid on top of a smaller slab of dough with a dusting of sauce. I picked up the pizza at one point and the cheese as its solidified block just slid off. I couldn’t get passed that.
Bourbon Street Bar and Grill (Central Ave, Albany) was definitely the most saucy. For such a thin slice, I was surprised by how much sauce they actually fit on the pizza. The sauce was what I tasted the most, I wasn’t able to get a good taste of the crust but the sauce sure was tasty. It had the best consistency out of all of them, I think. There wasn’t huge chunks of tomato you have to fight with but it wasn’t so thin that it was runny, the perfect mix of chunk and smooth sauciness.
Three Brothers (Saratoga Rd, Scotia) didn’t have any pizza when we got to them and when we passed I heard that some people had come back and they still didn’t have any pizza. They must’ve been waiting for their runner but I was unable to try it.
Bonfare (Broadway, Schenectady) was probably my second favorite slice, tied with Bourbon’s sauce. The guys were so friendly and were so passionate to tell us about their pizza. It wasn’t too greasy and there was just enough cheese and sauce. It was a well put together slice.
I didn’t know what to think of Nove Italian Restaurant (Saratoga Rd, Wilton). It could have gone both ways. Either the Italian restaurant would’ve had the BEST pizza because it’s a restaurant and has more ingredients to spend on their pizza to make it the best OR the pizza places would’ve had them beat because that’s ALL they have to focus on. In my opinion, it was the latter. Their pizza looked the best, for sure and the fact that they had woodfire pizza was exciting but the excitement ended there. I tried their “Grandma” pizza which they never explained why it was called that, I was just handed a pizza with a lot of basil just thrown on the top. They mentioned that the sauce was made with plum tomatoes to give it a different flavor but I didn’t get it. One bite and all I had was basil and maybe a thin layer of pizza. I honestly didn’t like it that much. It could have been that the pizza had gotten pretty cold by that point and maybe it would’ve have tasted better but as I had it, I didn’t like it. I’d be curious to try their other foods, though but I don’t think I’ll be ordering their pizza.
Overall, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. Out of the entire Capital District, I was underwhelmed by their choices as to who to include. In Schenectady alone we have I Love NY Pizza, Homestyle, Pizza Kings, Perrecas, Scotti’s, Marino’s, Fireside, Nico’s and more! I’m so curious as to why there weren’t more choices and why they didn’t invite some pizza places that are across the street or down the road. I know first hand that there are some fantastic pizza places in the area and I wasn’t really impressed with the overall selection.
Also, it seemed as if everyone was so unorganized as to how to get their pizza, pizzerias were running out of pizza, no one went to sit at tables and instead decided to stand in front of each booth & also, I would’ve liked the opportunity to ask about not only the pizzas they had but what else they offered and what made their pizzas different which was nearly impossible. I think this is a great idea. Pizza is such a simple food that can be made in so many ways, some tasting better than others and I live the opportunity to try pizza from many different places for one price in one place.
The crowd was a lot less than last year’s Pizza Wars and I think the two locations (one at Proctors, Schenectady and the other Holiday Inn, Wolf Rd Colonie) is a great idea but I would’ve loved to have been able to see what they had in Colonie and try those but there was no way I was going to fit two locations of Pizza Wars in my stomach in one night.
I understand this is only the second time this has been done and everyone is still trying to figure out how to organize everything but I’m most curious about why more places weren’t involved. Is it because of space or did they not want to or did places like Perrecas feel their name preceded their pizza?
Did you go? What did you think? Did you go to Pizza Wars in Colonie? Was it any different?