The 5th Annual Pizza Olympics in Philadelphia, PA

[Photographs: Kaytee Riek]

It happens every year. I show up at the South Philly Review's Pizza Olympics and find myself pushing through the snaking lines, frantically grabbing slices wherever I can, shoving them down my gullet, and then cackling in glee. "Unlimited good... more...please...," I manage to gasp out between slices.

When one finds oneself face-to-face with a cavernous, echoing catering hall filled with 11 pizzerias serving up unlimited slices and hundreds of Philadelphians queued up in long, slow-moving lines to eat them, something animalistic crawls out of your soul. The Mummers string band plunks banjos in the corner, dancing in sparkly neon pants, while we confront our most base instincts over a greasy paper plate stacked with a tower of slices.

The Fancy Brigade

But when forced to internalize the reality of the slice math this year, we quickly became more discriminating pizza eaters. 11 pizzerias, each with at least four types of pizza, equals an unachievable 40+ slices to try. Wasting our limited stomach space on the rest of a slice after a mediocre first bite would only mean having to skip other, possibly better, slices. And so it was that our rating system of the night emerged. "This is worth eating a whole slice," became the highest compliment we gave to any pizza.

Pizza Olympics attendees vote for their favorite pizza in a number of categories: Best Crust, Best Veggie, Best Creative Topping, and more. The official rankings haven't been announced yet*, but I can tell you the unofficial results. Based on an unscientific sample of my companions, along with a couple strangers I made uncomfortable with my questioning, a number of slices were deemed especially worthy of occupying our valuable stomach real estate. See favorites like Paulie's Sloppy Joe, Cacia's Pizzazz square slice, and more in the slideshow ยป

*Official results will be announced in the South Philly Review's July 25th issue.