Our on-going Manhattan pizza slice crawl continued recently with Round One-A of the Tasteoffs, featuring the winners of Prior Safari Rounds in the East Village.
Nino's and Petes-A-Place were winners in Phase 4-A of March 18, 2004, and East Village Pizza made the cut in Phase 7 around July 27, 2004.
So, these 3 "giants" of the pedestrian slice were recently pitted "head-to-head" in Round One-A of our Tasteoffs.
All tasting is of the "plain slice" or "regular slice"... sauce, cheese, and dough. The theory being that if the basic slice is great, then more elaborate slices (which are built on the plain foundation) stand a good chance of being great also.
The judge's comments are from the order of TASTING, not order of preference or finish:
1) PETE'S-A-PLACE (14th St. East of Ave. A). Appearance: Gold. Grease Level: Gold. Aroma: Bronze. Construction: Gold. Sauce: "Gold Plus". Cheese: Gold Aftertaste: "Gold Plus", perhaps Platinum.
Flavor Category: Delicate to Medium... around 4 or 5 on zestiness scale.
Notes: A bit salty, which probably enhances overall flavor up to a point. Fabulous lingering aftertaste.
2) NINO'S (St. Marks at Ave. A). Appearance: Gold Plus. Grease Level: Gold. Aroma: Bronze. Construction: Bronze/Silver ("fair" adhesion) Sauce: Gold. Cheese: Silver/Gold Aftertaste: Silver/Gold.
Flavor Category: Medium Zesty... around 6 on the zestiness scale.
Notes: Sweet sauce up front is delicious. Aftertaste is steady but doesn't evolve as much as Pete's-A-Place.
3) EAST VILLAGE PIZZA (1st Ave. at 9th St.). Appearance: Silver. Grease Level: Gold. Aroma: Bronze. Construction: Silver/Gold
Flavor Category: Mild... around 3 or 4 on the zestiness scale.
Notes: Slight "burnt" backnotes slightly detracted from overall score.
SUMMARY: All 3 pizzerias are winners of past Safari's and well worth a walk to get a slice. Nino's is noted as one of the best "views" from a pedestrian pizzeria with the pleasant setting overlooking Tompkins Square. Also many thanks to Nino's for use of their window ledge seating to conduct the tastings.
In the end, Pete's-A-Place is the winner by a nose over Nino's. The inescapable reason: The fantastic lingering aftertaste of Pete's. The Nino's Slice definitely improved as the sauce level increased towards the center. Nino's is also noted for a great selection of higher-end "creative topping slices".
Pete's-A-Place receives 1st place, an 18 Karat Gold Award, and will move on to Round Two of the Tasteoffs.
Nino's receives 2nd place, a 10 Karat Gold Award (silver alloy), and will move on to Round Two of the Tasteoffs.
East Village Pizza receives a Bronze Award.