With the opening of I Love NY Pizza in Dawsonville this week, the Dawson County News staff posed the question: Who makes the best pizza in town?
DCN staff couldn’t come up with a consensus, so we called in the experts — the county’s firefighters.
With 11 of Dawson County’s firefighters and EMTs volunteering to be our professional tasters, we decided to put 10 pizzas to the test.
We reached out to every pizzeria in Dawson County to see if they would like to participate in the Oct. 24 Taste Off, and five of them were up for the challenge.
In order for it to be a fair fight, each pizzeria donated a large or extra-large pepperoni pizza to be pitted against other slices of pepperoni pizzas, which gave each taster a chance to vote on taste. We also asked the pizzerias to donate a large or extra-large specialty pizza of their choice so that the tasters could also take a vote on the best specialty pizza in town.
We also couldn’t risk personal bias in this experiment, so the firefighters were tested blindly. Each was given five plates of pizza and they voted by ranking their favorites on a 1-5 scale.
The pizzerias that opted to join the taste test were Brooklyn Joe’s, MOD Pizza, Sbarro, Marco’s and I Love NY Pizza.
Pizza 1: Marco’s
Marco’s Pizza, located in the Dawson Marketplace, donated a large White Cheezy pizza as their specialty pizza. The $17 pie comes covered in bacon, onions, sliced tomatoes, garlic parmesan sauce, feta and a three cheese blend.
Pizza 2: Brooklyn Joe’s
Brooklyn Joe’s Pizza, located in the Publix shopping center, donated two large cheese pizzas. The $14.95 pizza features a cheesy blend in a traditional New York-style pizza.
Pizza 3: Sbarro
Sbarro, located inside the food court at the North Georgia Premium Outlets, donated a large pepperoni and sausage stuffed pizza that goes for $24.99 but can be purchased by the slice.
Pizza 4: I Love NY Pizza
I Love NY Pizza, located in the Food Lion shopping center, donated a large Roma Spinach pizza. The newest pizzeria in Dawson County had its soft opening on Oct. 21. The $15.95 pizza features toppings of spinach, tomatoes, feta and mozzarella.
Pizza 5: MOD Pizza
MOD Pizza, located in the Dawson Marketplace, provided a special meatlover pizza. The standard 11 inch MOD pizza is $8.27. The restaurant is known for its build-you-own pizzas.
When it came to judging, the firefighters took into consideration the crust, the sauce, the cheese, the presentation and the amount of toppings to determine their top pics.
With six firefighters naming it their favorite specialty pizza, Sbarro’s pepperoni and sausage stuffed pizza was named the best specialty pizza.
“(Pizza number) Three was all around the best, especially the specialty pizza on number three was the absolute best out of all of them,” said Fire Station 1 Division Chief Robby Lee.
For Lee, it was about the overall taste. As someone who isn’t much of a fan of most specialty-style pizzas, the pepperoni and sausage-based pizza was a hit for him.
“The crust was great. It was a good texture. The sauce itself was really good,” Lee said. “All of it tasted great.”
The presentation of Sbarro’s stuffed pizza and the amount of meat inside the pizza were also factors in it being voted as the top specialty pie of the day.
As for the favorite pepperoni pizza in town, it was a tough decision between Marco’s, Brookyn Joe’s and Sbarro, but Marco’s Pizza was declared the winner with four firefighters naming it their first choice.
Marco’s Pizza edged out the competition with its crust, sauce and cheese-to-pepperoni ratio.
“I don’t like too much pepperoni or the cheese/pepperoni ratio,” said firefighter/EMT Kyle Ray. “I don’t like the crust too thick either, or too thin. Kind of in the middle.”
But at the end of the day, the father of four isn’t too picky about his pizzas.
“As long as the kids are happy, I’m happy,” Ray said.
Battalion Chief Benji Ensley said it was a close vote between Marco’s and Brooklyn Joe’s. As a fan of pepperoni pizzas, the flavors of the two pizzas were great, but Brooklyn Joe’s had the advantage for his taste buds.
“I’m pretty much any meatlover or pepperoni,” Ensley said. “I just don’t like a lot of the vegetables or anything else.”
While there were two standout favorites, our tasters said there wasn’t a bad pizza in the bunch.
Up next? We’re thinking tacos.
We’d like to thank Dawson County Fire Chief Danny Thompson and the DCES personnel who helped us answer our lingering pizza questions, and to Marco’s, Brooklyn Joe’s, MOD Pizza, I Love NY Pizza and Sbarro for donating pizzas for our event.