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Friday, November 13, 2020

Peninsula Pizza Project 2020: The Method Behind The Madness


Over the past few months, you might have noticed an influx of pizza reviews on this site. That's because during the summer of 2020, we set out to try and find the best slice of pizza in town. We recently unveiled the results of the Peninsula Pizza Project 2020 over at Eat This Town, home of numerous epic local food quests. But, we wanted to provide some extra context through a post on this site. The "method behind the madness," if you will.

One of the main reasons we recently rebooted this site was because during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone was pretty much stuck inside – which also meant we had to cook most of our meals ourselves. Like many, we were hesitant to venture out (or order in) for the first few months. Although the pandemic hasn’t yet fully died down, it started to feel a bit safer to venture out in May.

Shortly thereafter, we sampled a relatively big, relatively cheap, but not very good takeout pizza from a local establishment. As we consumed on our mediocre meal, we discussed the qualities a "good" pizza should possess. We felt there was a “Venn Diagram of Pizza” – most are either good, big or cheap. Occasionally, you’ll find something that’s two of the three. Then, we wondered: is there a perfect pizza in Halifax?

And so, we came up with the Peninsula Pizza Project 2020 to try and determine where you can find he best pizza in town. However, it would take us forever to eat our way across the city, wouldn’t it? Also, hadn’t Eat This Town has already covered pizza quests? Yes and yes. Thus, we refined our parameters a bit. Here’s how it worked:

  • We decided to focus on pizza slices, as opposed to full pizzas.
  • Since J grew up in the heart of the city (and still lives in the area), we decided to make this a peninsula-wide initiative, using Joseph Howe Drive as the border. We meticulously researched where you could easily snag a slice to go, and ultimately came up with 22 local pizzerias where that was an easy option.
  • Unfortunately, this meant we had to exclude some really nice joints whose focus is on full pies (but don’t worry, we’ll be including some of them in another upcoming initiative). We also decided against including major national chains, as well as anywhere that just serves reheated pre-made pizzas. (We’re very sorry if we missed anyone – we did our best to make this as comprehensive and inclusive of a project as possible!)
  • On that note, in addition to the aforementioned 22 local pizzerias, we also decided to include four variety stores that also serve fresh pizza. However, they had to face off each other in a Qualifying round first. There was certainly no slight intended toward any of them, we just wanted to include a few places that may not be considered full-blown pizzerias first and foremost, and this is how we decided to handle them.
  • We always visited between the hours of 12-1pm and 5-6pm, when one might reasonably expect to receive a fresh slice (which didn’t always happen). Whenever possible, we shared a classic pepperoni & cheese slice, taking notes and a photo of each. Individual reviews and photos are available on our website (see below for direct links).
  • We included the winners of the Qualifying round in a bracket featuring a total of 24 local pizzerias, arranged largely due to geographic proximity. You can find this bracket over at Eat This Town.
  • We each tried both slices and determined who offered the better slice by considering the aforementioned “Venn Diagram of Pizza” – each slice received a score out of 5 for price (we determined the score via a price range rubric – see below), a score out of 5 for size (we eyeballed it, but took a picture of each one as backup), and a score out of 10 for taste (because, ultimately, that's what should matter the most, isn't it?). If there was any doubt – and sometimes there was – we asked ourselves: If given the choice, which one would we eat again?
  • The winners advanced to the Round of 12. We didn’t try the slices again, though – we used our notes from the previous round to populate the rest of the bracket. Round of 12 winners moved on to the Quarterfinals, and so on.
  • When we reached the Quarterfinals, we advanced one pizzeria from each side of the bracket that had lost in an earlier close battle (a “Bad Break”) into the Quarterfinals. The victors moved on to the Semifinals, then four became two in the Finals, where we crowned the champion…which, again, you can find out more about over at Eat This Town.
  • Our price rubric was as follows:
    • Slices costing above $6.50 (2 of 26 slices we tried) scored 2/5
    • $6.00-$6.49 (0/26) scored 2.5/5
    • $5.50-$5.99 (4/26) scored 3/5
    • $5.00-$5.50 (7/26) scored 3.5/5
    • $4.50-$4.99 (7/26) scored 4/5
    • $4.00-$4.49 (2/26) scored 4.5/5
    • Slices costing less than $4.00 (4/26) scored a perfect 5/5
  • To assist with our bracket deliberations, we entered our data into a spreadsheet, gave each slice a score and rank for each category, and then added up the scores and divided them by four to give them an overall score out of five - we called that our Deal Score. The higher the Deal Score, the more worthwhile the slice. The vast majority of Deal Scores are fairly close – the average was a 3.6/5, with a high of 4.1 and a low of 2.9.

Here’s a look at our spreadsheet:

Green cells reflect Top 10(ish) rankings

Our numbers confirm that our logic wasn't wrong: only ONE pizzeria out of 26 – Alexandra’s – hit the middle of our “Venn Diagram of Pizza” by scoring in the Top 10 in the cost, size and taste categories. Had the slice from The Big Wedge been just a little bigger, it likely would have been in there, too. As it happens, these were the two finalists of our bracket challenge, so it helped to be consistently good in all categories as opposed to great in one and middling in one or more. That’s why Yeah Yeahs and Morris East Slice Shop didn’t fare as well – they were delicious, but too small and/or expensive in comparison to their competitors.

We used the data to break down the tastiest, biggest and cheapest slices, and also to identify which slices were good and big, good and cheap, and which were big and cheap. All of this can be found on Eat This Town, too.

So, that’s how our Peninsula Pizza Project 2020 worked. We hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures just as we enjoyed eating and telling you about our dining experiences. Please stay tuned – there’s so much more to eat in this fair city, and we’re still hungry…

– J & M

P.S. Here are the direct links to our Peninsula Pizza Project 2020 reviews and photos, arranged by their final rankings:

  1. Alexandra’s (Grafton)
  2. The Big Wedge (Duffus)
  3. Sicilian (Blowers)
  4. Rugova's (Blowers)
  5. Papa Mario's (Mumford)
  6. Yeah Yeahs (Barrington)
  7. Tony's Donair (Robie)
  8. Jessy's Pizza (North)
  9. Randy's Pizza (Agricola)
  10. Jubilee Junction (Jubilee)
  11. King Of Donair (Quinpool)
  12. Korca Pizza (Agricola)
  13. (Joseph Howe)
  14. Rush Hour Pizza (Windsor)
  15. Kit Kat Pizza (Gottingen) 
  16. Big Al's Pizza (Gottingen)
  17. Morris East Slice Shop (Vernon
  18. Triple A (Jubilee)
  19. Pizza Girls (Grafton)
  20. Xtreme Pizza (Spring Garden)
  21. Snappy Tomato (Barrington)
  22. Metro Pizza (Lady Hammond)
  23. Peter's Pizzeria (Inglis)
  24. Shadia's Pizza (Gottingen)
  25. Donnini's Pizza (North)
  26. Pizzatown (Young)

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