Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday. This post continues my Manly Restaurant March Madness tournament.
The basketball tournament is just beginning but we’re into our second week of the manly restaurant March Madness tournament. If you haven’t been following along, check out my introduction article and selection show for more info on the tournament itself. Last week was the barbecue round with Smokejack advancing to the final four.
Unlike barbecue, the northern burbs have some truly outstanding pizza. I attribute this to the number of relos from up north. Eventually you’re gonna get some skilled pizza makers to move down this way. It’s no wonder there are so many great New York Style pizzerias here. Picking the most manly pie was a tough one for me as I like all four of these restaurants. Let’s get started.
Mama’s Pizza vs Verra-Zanno
Mama’s on Old Milton comes into the tournament with some amazing credentials. They won the AJC’s reader’s choice award for the best pizza in Atlanta. No, not best in Alpharetta or north Fulton… the best in metro Atlanta. That puts them ahead of Atlanta’s nationally recognized pizza joints such as Antico. So right out of the gate, before the first bite, Mama’s takes a big lead.
Verra-Zanno decides to open the game with their garlic knots. No, these are not freebies like you might get at other Italian joints. They are well worth the price. You’ll find tender pizza dough gently baked and smothered with garlic butter. The marinara dipping sauce is good but I suggest soaking up the leftover butter on the bottom of the plate. VZ’s garlic knots are enough to even the score with Mama’s.
Let’s have the pizza battle it out! Mama’s baked a terrific NY-style pie. The bottom of the pizza has a nice texture to it with a good crunch to your bite. The crust is bready but surrounded by a golden brown exterior.
Verra-Zanno counters with a similar dough yet with a crust that is ever so delicately singed. There’s a fine line getting pizza to this level of doneness without burning the fool out of it. Verra-Zanno manages to hit the mark consistently. It’s a tough call to make, but Verra-Zanno edges Mama’s out on quality of dough and texture of bread.
Mama’s counters with a thick Sicilian-style pizza, available by-the-slice at lunch. Yet even though it looks impressive on the plate, it disappoints. Compared to the NY-style pie, the Sicilian lacks depth, tasting more like cheese bread.
As the game nears its end, Mama’s earns points for their dive joint appearance but falls short for an extremely limited beer selection. In the end, Verra-Zanno wins the upset, ousting the Old Milton cubicle dweller favorite in the first round.
Sid’s Pizza vs Brooklyn Joe’s
Sid’s in south Forsyth on 141 enters the tournament with some favorable past reviews. Points North Magazine gave them high marks a few years ago. And of all the restaurants in this tournament, they have the hidden gem aspect best working in their favor.
Brooklyn Joe’s in Milton sports the best classic pizzeria appearance. It just feels like pizza walking in the door. But let’s talk about the pies. I find Brooklyn Joe’s NY-style pizzas to be inconsistent. They usually come out with a pungent yeast smell (like the smell of some beer). The crust and bottom of the pie have a decent texture to them but on occasion can be on the soggy side. But for big, manly and foldable slices of pizza, Joe’s is it.
On the other hand, Sid’s brings a completely different game. Their menu calls their pies “Sicilian style” but it’s not what you’re thinking. These are round Sicilian pizzas, not the thick, rectangular pizzas you might expect. Perhaps it is because the pizza recipe is said to have been handed down from family in Sicily.
Whatever it is, Sid’s crust is amazing. It’s airy and light yet singed and crunchy at the same time. On texture of the bread alone, Sid’s takes a commanding lead.
Brooklyn Joe’s counters with an impressive and broad menu featuring a lot of pasta. You’ll find chicken and eggplant parmesan and stuff like chicken francese that just isn’t available elsewhere in the tournament. But alas it isn’t enough to overtake Sid’s who cruises to an easy victory.
Verra-Zanno vs Sid’s
I like this final match-up featuring expertly-baked pizza from joints located right down the road from each other. Unfortunately for Sid’s, Verra-Zanno’s quality pie and deeper menu makes this match a blowout. The quality of the cheese and slightly spicy sauce at VZ is tops. Outside of pizza, the chicken parmesan and lasagna have no comparison. Sid’s counters with a chicken wing that gets some attention in online reviews. But it really isn’t close. Even their kind of cool surfer motif isn’t manly enough to take down a far superior pizza. Verra-Zanno’s real competition today was against Mama’s and not Sid’s. They earn the nod to compete in the final four of manly restaurants in Alpharetta.