Building the Ballot – Pizza
Hitting the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0 twice in one week is a bit treacherous. I don’t want anyone to get burnt out, and it takes away from other subjects I should be writing about. But I’ve had pizza on the mind.
Mostly, I wanted to share a lengthy comment I made to Albany Reddit. I’m enjoying the ability to participate in a community that isn’t so food centric, where you actually find people who go to Papa John’s and like it. Fortunately, you also find people who go to Papa John’s and don’t like it.
These are the people who could use our guidance.
Anyhow, this cry for help elicited a fairly comprehensive rundown of Capital District pizza. Without a doubt there are omissions. And despite how many pizzas I’ve eaten around the area, there are still several notable places that I’ve yet to experience. But what does it mean to be the best pizza in the region?
Let’s attempt to get to the answer.
Ultimately, a pizza is about how the crust, sauce and cheese all come together in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. But depending on who you talk to, not all of those parts are created equal.
I am not shy to say that I’m a crust man. It’s the crust first and foremost. Forget how good the sauce and cheese may be, if the crust isn’t great, the pizza will never be great.
Admittedly, that is subjective and we may have to agree to disagree. So let’s look at it more objectively.
The best pizzas are handmade by dedicated craftsmen who don’t cut corners. They employ quality ingredients and take pride in their work. Pizza screens are in a direct conflict with these statements, so if your pizza has hash marks on its bottom, it need not apply. Bubbles, both in the crust and the cheese are entirely consistent with high quality hand-crafted pizza, so delight in the fact if your pie contains these delicious deformities.
3. Mama Mia’s – Saratoga Springs
This joint was entirely off my radar until my pizza guru Renée put it on the All Over Albany 2011 Tournament of Pizza Saratoga Bracket. It was handily the single greatest pizza that I’ve tried from our great culinary Mecca to the north. They push that crust to its boundaries, and sometimes charred crosses the line to burned. And that’s why this is just number three. But it’s great stuff.
2. Pizza King – Schenectady
No surprise to have this on my list, as I’ve long hailed its greatness and supremacy for slices. After all, pizza is all that they do. No sandwiches, no pasta, no desserts. Just pizza. And it is amazing, especially after it’s reheated and crisped up to a perfectly thin, chewy and tender foundation for solid and flavorful toppings.
1. DeFazio’s – Troy
Despite this pizza diminishing exponentially in its cardboard sarcophagus, hands down this is the best pizza in the area. You just need to make sure to grab one of the few tables and eat your pie in the shop fresh from the oven. And if you are going to want more than one pie, put the orders in a few minutes apart, so the pizza doesn’t all come out at the same time. The quality of everything here is unimpeachable. It’s not New York thin crust, so let it not be said that I’m an ideologue.
So, those are my picks. And I’ve never been to Bacchus. Nor have I tried what they are putting out at the Capital City Gastropub, but I do understand that it bears little resemblance to the Pasquale’s pies it replaces.
However, this exercise is all about getting your top three picks, as we build the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0 for its April arrival. It will be here before you know it. So, what do you think? Three best pizza places. Go.