Hoboken Pizza Derby!
A loyal Hoboken411 reader put together this great pizza “test” between three local pizzerias. A couple weekends ago, they ordered from all three locations at the same time, started the stop watches, rated customer service, and of course the taste.
See who won, and what their analysis was after the jump!
At 5.25pm, a trio of cell phones simultaneously inaugurated the 2007 Hoboken Pizza Derby, a wholly subjective competition sprung unwittingly on some of the finest pizzerias in the northeastern part of Hudson County in the northeastern part of New Jersey.
The orders were clear, though little else was:
- meatball and spinach from Giovanni’s on Washington,
- plain cheese (esp. for the kids) from Del Fino’s on Jefferson,
- chicken parm. from Mario’s on Garden.
At 5.25pm, they’re off!
Sure there were lots of variables: the distance from the venue made travel time and the Delivery Heat Index variable. The selection of toppings required varying levels of prep and cooking time, each of which contributed to the Crust Factor as well as the Sauce-to-Topping ratio.
For the critics, numbering some 25 adults and 12 kids, there were also the subjective realities of personal preference and tastes. One critic was a self-confessed “salt and garlic” addict. Others chose pies not by formula but by personal taste or preference. “The nerve?” say you?? Wait.
After all, this isn’t just any pizza derby, this is the HOBOKEN Pizza Derby, where the rules change according to who is keeping score or who is at the keyboard typing the report. Subjective RULES!
The pies begin arriving:
At 5.49 the first delivery climbed the steps: a meatball and spinach pie from Giovanni’s. Like every first-arrival, the critique’s started early.
To some, Giovanni’s cheese was “too buttery,” while others thought the spinach and meatball combination “VERY good.” “A good ratio of toppings,”
said one newcomer, and then the door bell rang again.
The Giovanni’s price – like the Mario’ choice – was about 16 bucks, with a flat 20 rounding out the tip; Del Fino’s cheese pie was closer to $13.
At 5.56pm the deliveryman from Mario’s climbed the stairs, with Del Fino’s hot on his heels (at 5.57). They exchanged glances (rather than blows, blackjacks, or shots), and their hot boxes were thrust into the hands of host S., who recorded each delivery time to the 1/100th of a second (Ok, maybe it wasn’t THAT precise). Note, the boxes were each marked with the delivery time BEFORE their placement before the jury.
The tasting table was administered by D., a catering and special events professional with more than a decade of experience dealing with-ahem, catering to Manhattan’s most difficult-ahem,”refined.” With a precision knife, sharpened to facilitate rapid dissemination of derby game, D. made sure that sampling slices were of approximate weight, exemplary components, and rapidly distributed. The growing pile of empty boxes a testament to the communal appetite for Hoboken’s finest.
As the crowd broke into Mario’s chicken parmesan pizza, there was one initial feeling that the chicken “overwhelmed” the pizza, but also a clear expression that Mario’s crust was “the best.” Still, more than one other concluded that the chicken parm. constituted the “best flavor,” though one of those votes came from the self confessed “garlic and salt” addict.
Twelve wee folk swiftly circled around the cheese pizza from Del Fino’s, and in pure microsoft style group-think they began to chant “cheese… cheese.. cheese” before the small plates could be set out in front of them. D. cut furiously the 8 slices into 16, hoping that a volume of critics could compensate for the juvenile inability to articulate human values such as “Sauce-to -opping” ratio or “Topping Freshness.” More than one adult remarked this seemed “right out of Children of the Corn.”
The sun went down, the boxes piled up, and the votes came in as follows:
TIMELINESS and COURTESY:
- Mario’s – 10 out of 10 “lovely” on the phone
- Del Fino’s – 8 “put me on hold” when called
- Giovanni’s – 9 “polite but curt”
- Mario’s – 8
- Del Fino’s – 7.5 somewhere between “Good” and “better than good”
- Giovanni’s – 7 “a tiny bit gummy” but “probably because of the moisture in the spinach and meatball toppings”
HEAT INDEX/ WARMTH OF PIZZA UPON DELIVERY:
- Del Fino’s: The Winner
SAUCE TO TOPPING RATIO:
- Mario’s – “just right”
- Del Fino’s – “not sure” but the “flavor was just right”
- Giovanni’s – “light on sauce” “but toppings more than made up for it” overall a “good ratio of toppings”
- Mario’s – 8.5 chicken parm was “just right”
- Del Fino’s – 7 out of 10
- Giovanni’s – 8.5 “spinach and meatball VERY good”
And the winner is….
OVERALL WINNER: by a sliver of a shred of mozzarella and SEVEN MINUTES delivery time: GIOVANNI’S !!!