After three weeks of intense, spirited voting, Weekly Volcano readers have picked the most popular pizza joint in the South Sound.
And your 2011 Tournament of Pizza Champion is ... Katie Downs!
Earlier this week the Tournament of Pizza Championship game pitted the longtime Tacoma favorite against Westside Olympia powerhouse Apollo's Pizza & Pasta. Both joints are well respected throughout the region for their kickass pies, and both have strong local fanbases that voted for them throughout the Tournament of Pizza. Apollo's advanced to the championship after emerging from the Tournament of Pizza's South Region, staving off perennial powerhouses like Oldschool and Vic's in the process. Katie Downs, on the other hand, emerged from the ultra-competitive Downtown Tacoma Region, and a field of household Tacoma names like Puget Sound Pizza, The Rock, Farrelli's on Sixth Avenue and Upper Crust.
"It was fun watching," says Katie Downs Chef Chris King of the Tournament of Pizza, noting the experience introduced him to a number of new, smaller pizza joints he now wants to try.
"It really gets everyone's name out there," he notes.
Monday's championship battle saw tournament-record most online voting before 5 p.m. Katie Downs had a commanding lead by the time voting switched to a live ballot box at 6 p.m. at the Tournament of Pizza Championship Party at The Schooner Pub in Lakewood. At the party, folks filled out pizza voting and raffle ballots when they weren't pounding beers and screaming at the televisions. The pizza voting couldn't help but supersede the ugly NCAA Men's Championship hoop game in which UConn held the Butler Bulldogs to a title-game record-low 18.8 percent shooting.
The basketball game was ugly. The Tournament of Pizza was not. By all accounts, it was a rousing success.
Of course, it was especially successful for the winner.
"We've been here forever and we're active in the community," says King when asked why Katie Downs had the success it did in the Tournament of Pizza. Throughout the competition, Katie Downs logged three of the four top vote totals, surpassing 3,000 votes in a single day on two separate occasions. The restaurant's large e-mail list and social networking reach played a major part in its dominance.
However, in the end, it all came down to the pie.
"We put a lot of heart and soul into (our pizza)," says King. "We're like a tight little family here."
Representation from Apollo's Pizza & Pasta and Katie Downs were in the house during the Tournament of Pizza Championship Party. Apollo's arrived early with a stack of piping hot pizzas. The Olympia pizza joint passed out free slices to the crowd, showing their hospitality and their skill at pizza pie perfection. The Katie Downs crew arrived halfway through the first half of the basketball game - also sporting pizzas. The crowd didn't leave hungry. The free pizzas were a surprise to all. The Weekly Volcano would like to extend a special thanks to The Schooner Pub for being cool with the pizzas. We're pretty sure we drank enough booze to make up for it.
Both South Sound pizza joints will be receiving Tournament of Pizza trophies after completion of the engraving.
Thanks to all the awesome folks who voted. You rock.
3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma