What do the judges drink while judging pizza?

The 2011 All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza wrapped up weeks ago, but I have a few loose ends to tie up.

One of which is to address this comment, left by CapHwys.

What do the judges drink while judging pizza?

When I was approached by the minds behind All Over Albany to be a judge in their 2011 tournament, this was actually something that I thought about deeply on the ride back home. For me, the quintessential pizza beverage is an orange drink that comes out of a strange machine that has the liquid recycling into itself like a chocolate fondue fountain.

I had a real problem on my hands. How was I going to bring this beverage experience to the assigned weekly location?

Well, there was no way. But I managed to figure out a way to at least bring an iced cold orange soda to each tasting.

The very same cooler I use to transport my lunch to work every day.

So, to address the question, for this judge, I made it a point to bring this cooler with a Diet Orange Crush (hey, I was already cheating on my “no pizza” diet; I wasn’t gonna drink sugar 6 times too!). If you go back through the 2011 All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza posts (as I just did), you’ll see my cooler and my soda in a few of the pictures. [A fun Easter egg not many people knew about until now]

To me, pizza is a fun food. Sure, it can be classed up, but that’s not the spirit. Sitting down with a couple of slices and a can of soda (which not coincidentally is a lunch or all-time special at almost every pizzeria) is the spirit. Orange soda is a fun choice that you don’t really find that often, but works well with pizza.

I stepped things up a little bit for the semi-finals and the finals. I tracked down some real Italian orange soda, Aranciata. (Truth: It wasn’t that hard to find.)

I liked how this soda paired with the pizza that DiFazio’s gave us in the finals. That pizza had a lot of character, and, had we eaten it straight out of the oven, I am confident it would have blown away it’s competitor, 5th and 50, who gave us a tasty, but relatively bland chicken and ricotta pizza. The light orange flavor as well as the very light bubbles of the soda worked well with the basil flavoring DiFazio’s pizza.

There’s a funny coincidence about this orange beverage. After the tournament wrapped up, I started going on a little pizza tour with people I know with experience in the pizza business. The first stop on the tour was Marisa’s Place with my cousin, Bobby, who grew up working with his father and uncle in legendary Oneonta pizzeria, Pizzaland. Bobby and I met at Marisa’s on a gloomy Saturday afternoon, and, when I asked him what he was drinking, out of a soda case filled with about 100 rows of various sodas, San Pellegrino Aranciata was his choice.


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