Atlanta Pizza Days – THE END

March 18, 2009 · 10 comments

in atlanta, atlanta pizza, dining out, misc food

After 18 pizza meals, the Atlanta Pizza Days has come to an end. It took roughly two months from the series announcement to get to this point, which is about a month longer than I had planned.

Initially, I made a list of 12 pizza destinations for the series, but I felt I had to keep going. The feedback on the series was awesome, and I received lots of emails from friends and readers telling me about their favorite pizza place, and why I needed to add it. Even with the additional 6 destinations, there are a handful of noteable places that I didn’t make it to, including Savage Pizza, Athens Pizza, Slice, Johnny’s New York Style Pizza, and Grant Central Pizza. I’ve actually eaten at all of the places in the past, and their exclusion is not indicative of their quality – I just am a point where I feel comfortable finishing up. This could go on for another 6 months if I said I was going to visit EVERY pizza restaurant in Atlanta.

When I made up the rules for the series, I made it clear that this is not a “Best of Atlanta” pizza series. It was intended more as pizza education. What does Atlanta have to offer? What are the different stylistic approaches, and which of those are most popular? Which pizza spots are similar to others? Who stands out?

I think I’ve satisfied many of these questions, or, at least I satisfied my own personal curiosity. Throughout the 18 destinations and 30+ pizzas I’ve tried, I’ve formed a strong opinion of the type of pizza I like to eat. A few people have messaged me about how they now have a stronger opinion on what pizza they like, and some people told me that they are now more cognizant of the pizza while they are eating it. I think that’s awesome and love the idea that when asked “How’s the pizza?” a few more folks in Atlanta are likely to give more elaborate feedback than “It’s good”.

RATINGS

I want to mention something about the ratings. For starters, they’re stupid and you shouldn’t read too much into them. While scoring is fun, there is too much room for variance. The scores are judged on my biased, unprofessional opinion, and the opinions of my dining companions and blind taster’s. There were quite a few times where I significantly disliked a pizza but everyone else really enjoyed it. They just happened to like that style and so might you.

Regarding the scoring by blind taster’s, this was fun, but those scores should almost be tossed out. The taster’s varied with almost every pizza and the pizza was often reheated after half a day to two days in my refrigerator. Consistently I found that cheese and sauce scores were down in the blind tasting. Cheese became less gooey and sauce lost moisture and became paste-like. What was interesting is that the dough often scored higher, as there were quite a few pizzas with a gummy layer which became more firm and crispy when I reheated on a pizza stone for three minutes.

POINTS TO TAKE AWAY

There are a few things that I hope people picked up during the series that I think are worth listing here:

  1. Just because someone else doesn’t like a particular pizza, it’s best to try it yourself. Opinions vary greatly.
  2. If you really want good pizza, always order a whole pie.
  3. Loading up on toppings is generally going to produce poor dough – keep it to one or two toppings.
  4. Just because a pizza restaurant claims they have “New York style” pizza, it doesn’t mean it is true
  5. Pizza is fickle – the same restaurant can produce a great pie one day, then a horrible one the next. Don’t judge solely on one pizza.
  6. Don’t fall back on preconceived notions. I can’t count the number of times that someone told me that they loved a particular place, then they scored the pizza horribly in the blind tasting. Which brings me to my final thought…
  7. Think about your pie next time you eat it! Is there too much sauce? Not enough? How well was it distributed? Is the cheese grainy? How gummy is the crust? Does the crust have any noticeable flavor? What about the endcrust – is it a gut-bomb hunk of bread or does it have an enjoyable texture? Does this pizza fit the claimed stylistic approach? If you like pizza, you’ll have fun comparing these qualities in various pies.

WHO WON?

I’m not going to rank each pizza destination according to the scores, if you feel like doing that, you are welcome to do so. However, there are a few places that stood out to me that I wanted to mention, with some impromptu awards.

Most Creative Pizza/Best Pizza for Sharing – Dynamic Dish – “Dynamic Dave’s” is not your usual pizza spot, but I don’t know if I’ve had more fun during this series than when we went for the pizza one Saturday evening. Their pizzas are perfect for sharing – small, thin and reasonably priced. With a wonderful range of creative and tasty ingredients, it’s tough to not have a great time. My favorite pie was the asparagus/thyme mushroom pizza.

dyanmic-dish-pizza

Best New York Style PizzaBaby Tommy’s Taste of New York – While the dough was slightly overcooked for my tastes, I thought Baby Tommy’s was the truest to form. Large, thin, foldable slices with tons of cheese, and tasty sauce…I thought the dough consistency was better than Rosa’s. ALL the blind taster’s thought this pie was excellent.

babytommy

Favorite Pizza of the SeriesShorty’s – Our waiter claimed that Shorty’s had the best pizza in town, and while I’ve said that I think it’s impossible to crown a “Best of Atlanta”, Shorty’s is the first place I’d recommend if someone asked me where they should try some pizza. It’s a small unassuming restaurant at the end of a strip mall, but the inside is welcoming, the servers are friendly, and more importantly they produce a quality pie.

Cooked on a wood fired oven, the dough isn’t anything like the Neapolitan style of Fritti, in fact I’m not sure what style you would call their dough, but it’s of obvious quality. Throw in some real cheese, tasty sauce, and a slew of other quality ingredients plus fun specialty pies, and I think it’s likely you’ll enjoy their pizza. I hope you give it a shot, and let me know what you think!

shortys2

THANKS

Of course, many thanks go out to everyone who helped with this series, especially the dining crew (Katie, Sara H, Charlie, Dirty, Tami, Foodie Buddha, Kathleen, Aaron, Thomas, Devin, Scott, Pat, and Jeff) and the blind taster’s (Sara C, Jonathan, Aaron, Katie, Justin, Mike G, Mike S, and Emily).

Also, many thanks to everyone that has taken a few moments from their day to visit this site. Many of you gave me great ideas for the series, as well as some awesome destinations. Many of my favorites pizza spots were places I had never even heard of until you told me about it.

If I forgot anyone else, I apologize. Thanks!

THE ATLANTA PIZZA DAYS LIST (in order of visit)

EAT IT, ATLANTA – ATLANTA PIZZA DAYS MAP

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