I should probably mention that in preparation for this endeavor, I gave up pizza for 1 year. You read that right. 12 months…no pizza. Well, almost. I gave up pizza for a year akin to the way a lot of Christians follow The Bible. I stretched the rules (pepperoni rolls) of no pizza and straight up broke them on 2 occasions (I’m weak). Regardless, this tournament is my triumphant return to pizza, at least symbolically. Let us wait no further for the results of the first 2 games!
1 Mandy’s vs 8 Monte Cello’s
You might see the 1 vs 8 seed and think that this was a blowout, however, you’d be sorrily mistaken. This match-up was much closer than even I expected. I should first tell you that I have a history with Monte Cello’s. I was once a pizza maker for this local chain and I always loved it, particularly when I was the pizza architect. Despite my lurid history with Cello’s, it’s been around 4 years since I’ve indulged in their pizza and I kinda got some flak for including them in the tourney, at all (hence the 8 seed).
I’ve not eaten at Mandy’s and they got the 1 seed based on reputation and a few awards for best pizza from various sources (all of which don’t matter because I am now the authority). I met my friend and his 2 kids (let’s call them T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye) at Mandy’s and we got down on some pepperoni pizza. This is good pizza and the crew also thought it was, at the very least, crazysexycool.
I had my slice of pizza and then hit the road to Monte Cello’s. I shared a mini pepperoni pizza with another friend (let’s call him Michael McDonald). This is a friend that previously didn’t have great things to say about Monte Cello’s, but this pizza may have changed his mind.
This was more of a buzzer beater situation than I expected. Both pizzas were about equal in crust, cheese, and pepperoni. The crusts were each crisp, yet soft. Flavorful, but definitely not stealing the show. The cheese on each was quite similar, and the pepperoni’s were also about the same. The shot that beat the clock was the sauce. Both sauces were great, but Mandy’s edged out Cello’s. The sauce was slightly sweet but not overbearing, all while being a somewhat herbaceous. The sauce put the Overall Flavor category in favor of Mandy’s, who will move on to the next round. Also, bonus points to Mandy’s for having this strange picture of Dr. Oz on the wall (you can tell those two women behind him know that he is full of shit).
That being said, you should eat at Monte Cello’s. It’s really good.
1 Spak Bros vs 8 Caliente
For the second game of the tournament, I kept things close to my neighborhood and hit up two spots that are within walking distance to my home. This match-up was a little more unbalanced. Both Spak and Caliente are in my Rolodex of usual pizza places, although I must admit that I usually only call on Caliente for late night delivery.
Upon entering Spak Bros you’ll notice an absence of glitz and glamour, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. There’s a cool sit down 80’s style arcade game, loud hardcore music is playing, and the wall decorations even include autographed photos of Andrew W.K. and late professional wrestler Chris Benoit. Regardless of the atmosphere, which may or may not make you feel like you aren’t cool enough to be there, the pizza is legit. This game was the blowout you would expect from the 1 vs 8 match-up with all three categories going to Spak.
Don’t sleep on Caliente, though. The pizza is good, the wings are good, and if you opt for dining in, they have a good selection of craft beer. Definitely worth a visit, even if it sounds like they serve Mexican food.
Winner: Spak Bros
*Slight schedule change: Saturday’s games have been postponed to next week because I am terrible at remembering the plans that I make.
Stay tuned for the results of the rest of this week’s match-ups!