OK so what is this Valley Pizza Challenge all about? This is about a group of people determining which pizza places in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (mostly the Northampton area) are the best, and which ones are to be avoided at all costs. The way we will determine this is with a single elimination bracket-style tournament where each evening we pit two pizzas together in a winner-take-all battle; the winners will advance to the next round, and the losers will weep.
Because there are so many pizza places in the Northampton area, we will break things down by town and do a tournament for each town. Then, once we’ve determined the best pizza place in each town we will pit the towns against each other until one is judged victorious. The tournament will be seeded by the ratings each joint gets from Google.
The regular testers in this challenge are Adam, Jenny, Noah, and Hilary, and generally a guest taster will show up for each round. We live in the Northampton area and have a passion for talking about food, and thought this would be a great avenue for contributing to the common knowledge of our community.
We’re still hammering this out, but this will not be a blind testing. We actually tried that and it’s just too hard to do it right, and there will always be questions as to its validity. So instead we will get the same pizza for two different shops each round and openly discuss our thoughts as we consume. The pies will be rated along four different categories: Crust, Toppings, Taste, and Mouthfeel (subject to change). We will go around, each will choose a winner, and the pizza with the most total votes wins! Yes this is a highly subjective test, but I feel like we bring enough variation of tastes to make it somewhat valuable still.
The plan is to hit up a different town each round so we spread the love, with plans to take on Northampton, Florence, Williamsburg, Hadley, Easthampton, and Holyoke. We may decide to take on more outlying towns at a later date (I’m looking at you Deerfield, Sunderland, and Amherst), but that will be a wait and see kind of thing. Once we determine the best pizza place in each town we will have a final tournament testing the towns against each other to the determine the best pizza town in the area!