This was the 2nd time I was in attendance of the annual Pizza Throwdown held at the esteemed hallowed halls of Fresco Pizza and just by first view I knew that it had doubled in size. By the count of attendees at least. Perhaps one or two more contestants, but both the interior and outside areas were jammed with people. This is a good thing.
It means that more good folk are willing to come out on a hot evening and chow down on some seriously delicious pizza created by some seriously talented people. Our lil' town that could is starting to be a city that does and events such as this makes a food dork like me smile just a wee bit wider.
|A good lookin' and happy crowd|
In fact, inside Fresco was so shoulder to shoulder that all those bodies, combined with the 100+ degree weather outside, it made for a makeshift sweat box of late spring food party attendees. Not that anyone minded. We were all too content to sample local beers and slices of doughy divinity to take any real notice or complain.
I mean, who complains at a pizza throwdown event?
Idiots. That's who.
The rest of you are cool.
Beer was mercifully provided by Crooked Tooth, Barrio and Thunder Canyon, who also brought with them chef Matt Kraiss as a throwdown winner hopeful.
Outside of a well balanced pizza, Matt also made a peach and house spiced rum slushy of sorts which went really well with the early summer swelter. So gosh dern tasty. What a way to start the event.
And cold beer is good too. Like really good.
Is there such thing as 'too good'?
I sure hope not...
|Thunder Canyon about to go down|
Fresco Pizza has been a long time favorite of mine so their pie was easily in my top 3.
Oh wait, I just got started. Nevermind.
But, check it: Fresco brought the old school realness by making a semifreddo "ice cream" cookie sandwich. Yes! Can you dig it? I sure did. Even with the ice cream running down my hand and arm, it took me back to an innocent time of youthful summers come and gone. Very, very good.
Although I never drank beer as a kid.
That came later...
Thing is, all of this fine revelry came the day after Anthony Bourdain passed. So most of us food heads were a bit down in the dumps.
Pizza makes things better though. As does beer.
And good friends.
And making people happy.
So....we had that going for us.
|Roccos: Cheesy and spicy, just like the owner|
Outside of pizza there was also a dessert throwdown, so a lot of contestants brought their sweet game with them
Chef Michael of Mama Louisa's made a Nutella based pizza while the ladies at Gourmet Girls made a panna cotta creation. All of it made the grade. Not one fail.
It was tough to decide on a winner. So on my end I just gave everyone a big thumbs up and let the general public be the judge.
Plus, doesn't a food blogger need to be a bit impartial in situations such as these? I think so.
|Mama Louisa's never lets us down|
About a half hour in I was about 4 slices down along with 2 or 3 desserts. Pack in some local beer on top of that and the belly was beginning to get, well...packed in.
It's a tough job but (sigh) somebody has to do it.
We are professionals. We press on!
|Getting a bit pizza blind at this point|
Rocco's did an ode to Tacos Apson, one of the best taquerias in Tucson, or anywhere really. The pizza featured carne asada, grilled onions, mushrooms and green chiles. It was amazing.
This year Mama Louisa's didn't do a Joe's Special (a Tucson tradition since 1956) pizza, one that is topped with spicy house sauce and linguine, but they did bring some classic inspirations.
In fact, most of the entries were pretty toned down and just let the fresh ingredients speak for themselves.
After eating pizzas with reduced truffle espuma and a confit of sea urchin anus it is nice to just have a decent slice with pepperoni.
And we got plenty of that.
And then some...
|Panna cotta pizza? Girl you crazy...|
An hour in and the stomach was stretched out. The beer goggles were strapped on tight. The interior of Fresco was a wall of drippy pizza party goers.
I got a little woozy there for a second. So I stepped outside where it was oddly slightly cooler, maybe a chilly 99 degrees, and chatted with some friends over, yes, a beer.
C'mon now! I'm Metal Mark.
It's....it's what I do.
|No stopping now, we're in too deep|
In the end, just like last year, Fiamme Pizza Napoletana took the big prize. Shocker.
No. Not really.
Fiamme always delivers the goods with their Neapolitan pies so when they nabbed the crown we all nodded and went, "Yeah, sure...that makes sense."
Thankfully enough, Fresco won best dessert with that ice cream sandwich bliss and Barrio Brewing took it for best beer.
But was there really a "best"? Not too sure.
I do know this, everybody did their best and I know that Tucson is on its way to becoming one of the best food cities. And I am lucky to be a part of it.
And so are you!
|And the winner is!|
So a big Homeskillet cheers to Casino del Sol, Thunder Canyon, Gourmet Girls, Upper Crust Pizza, Arizona Pizza Company, Mama Louisa's, Rocco's, Fiamme and host Fresco for bringing the saucy cheesy badassery.
I'll see you all again next year.
|Chef Matt and the TC crew in full effect|
And on my way out.
|Oh, hey, looky there...|
Camera, Typing and Not Pooping for a Week
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
So Hot in Mid June, 2018