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Best Pizza of The Caldwells Contest

Patch begins search for the best pie around.

Welcome to the 2010 Caldwells Patch "Best Pizza in The Caldwells" contest!

Pizza may just be the perfect food. Comprised mostly of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and dough (bread), it's a fairly healthy "fast" food. 

People are passionate about "tomato pies," and everyone has their favorite, for various reasons: They like the sauce. The crust is perfect. The price is right  ... they know the owner!

The Caldwells have a rich history of pizzerias. For decades, Caldwell Pizza was the choice for many. This pie was thin and on the oily side; you definitely needed two hands to hold a slice. Joe's Pizza was known for its sauce. Sonny's pizza was heavy on the semolina, was good overall and they delivered—kids loved it.

In the past two decades, The Caldwells have experienced nothing short of an explosion of places that offer pizza. Longtime places like Franco's and The Pizza and Sandwich Barn have been joined by Russillo, Frank's Trattoria and Forte, with even more opening up in the past few six months—Vitella's and Tony D's are the newest kids on the block.

With so many pizza places around, it's clear that we love the stuff, but who's the best of the best? 

With a team of judges and an extensive series of tastings, The Caldwells Patch is going to find out.

Meet your Judges: 

Mike Pignataro—Your Caldwells Patch editor can eat pizza any day of the week. He's tried them all and will be looking for the right balance between a pie's three main components: dough, sauce and cheese.

After growing up in New Jersey, he lived in Connecticut for several years where pizza just wasn't the same. Even the state's famed Pepe's in New Haven and Fairfield (Connecticut) didn't quite compare. He hasn't yet delved into all of the pizzerias The Caldwells have to offer, but is certainly looking forward to it.

Ron Albanese—This Caldwells Pach contributor is a lifelong pizza addict, and for years dreamed of owning a pizzeria. The closest he's come is at one time having managed one, where he was a "pie slinger." In The Caldwells, he delivered pizza to just about every house in the area while working at Aponte's Pizzeria for a few years in the mid '90s. 

He understands the impact of using various cheeses, has a good working knowledge of dough preparation, baking and oven type and more. He's proud of his personal list of favorite pizza places all around New Jersey—one is in Caldwell, though he vows to remain impartial throughout the judging.

Nicholas "The Kid" Albanese—When it comes to pizza, 9-year-old Nick is a chip off of his father's block. He eats the stuff a lot, and accompanies his old man on pie runs. He, too, has a decent working knowledge of pizza in general, his own favorites, and knows if it "tastes good." It will be interesting to get a younger perspective of pizza in The Caldwells.

Judge No. 4—The fourth judge will be rotated between Patch contributors and members of the community. Want to join in? Let us know!

Judging Citeria 

The Caldwells Patch pizza testers will utilize the following four-point method to determine the best of the best:

1. Cheese—What kind? Whole milk? Skim? Is there a lot used? Too little?

2. Sauce—We're looking for flavor. Is it spicy? How much is on the pie?

3. Crust—Thin or thick? The dough overall will also be judged here.

4. Overall taste—The interaction of all of the above. How does it all come together?

The pizza that scores the highest will be the recipient of the 2010 Caldwells Patch award for "Best Pizza in The Caldwells."

Evaluating procedure

All pizzas tested will be plain cheese pies; they will be ordered at the restaurant, and whenever possible, consumed on premises. No special requests will be made; just a plain large pie will be ordered, prepared as per usual. One tasting will be reported each week. The report will also include more information on each restaurant. 

To find the best pizza in The Caldwells we're going everywhere—here's an alphabetical list* of where we're going:

Calandra's Italian Village (234 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Cedar Grill & Pizza (295 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Forte Pizzeria & Ristorante (182 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Frank's Trattoria (802 Bloomfield Ave., West Caldwell)

Franco's Pizzeria (907 Bloomfield Ave., West Caldwell)

Italianissimo (435 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Michael's Pizzeria and Restaurant (669 Bloomfield Ave., West Caldwell)

Nicco's Italian Deli (275 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Pizza & Sandwich Barn (323 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell)

Russillo Pizzeria and Ristorante (675 Bloomfield Ave., West Caldwell) 

Tony D's (3 Hanford Place, Caldwell)

Vitella's Cucina (40 Clinton Road, West Caldwell)

*We will be stopping in at random order. Did we forget one? Let us know!

Who has the best pizza in The Caldwells? Check in each Friday for an analysis on our visits. A final report will announce the winner.

May the best pizza win. 

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