The highest possible score was 30 points. In the final tally, Thomas scored it 19 to 17 in favor of Tim’s pie. Edan’s scorecard was even tighter, but the pizzaiolo eventually sided with Tim’s pizza, 18.5 to 18. Which should have meant the clock had run out on Joe, right?
Not in Joe’s underworld of ever-shifting rules. The boss — a term that was beginning to take on more nefarious connotations by the second — decided that he would now include not just Bonnie’s scores but also those from Becky Krystal, the Food/Travel sections’ editorial aide. A generous scorer, Becky preferred Joe’s pizza, 23 to 21. Bonnie, the hangman of pizza judges, initially had them deadlocked at 15 points apiece. But she had not yet scored on ease of preparation, because she had reviewed only Tim’s recipe.
Once Joe finished a verbal description of his pizzamaking, Bonnie rewarded him an extra point for ease of preparation. The final, final tally: Joe, 77, and Tim, 76.5.
But then a funny thing happened to Joe’s North Korean-esque victory: Once Bonnie reviewed Joe’s written recipe, she downgraded him for ease of preparation, erasing his lead and returning the victory to the pizza professionals’ original choice.
Joe responded as “bosses” often do: He threatened to add his thoughts to recent staff performance evaluations. And he demanded a rematch — with the pizzas made not in the Post cafeteria, but at home. Just like they would be, come Super Bowl Sunday.
Four days later, the pies were remade in the more dependable oven at Joe’s Dupont Circle apartment. Joe cut down on the sugar in his sauce and coated his dough in flour before transferring it to the baking sheet, a technique that allowed the olive oil to stay under the dough for its browning duties. Tim ditched the rolling pin and formed his round by hand — okay, with more than a little help from Edan, who showed up for the second tasting. (Thomas was out of town.)
Neither Edan nor Bonnie was asked to score the pies this time. Both agreed, though, that they were much improved — so much so that Edan declared, “They’re two of the best home pizzas I’ve had.” Joe started talking about opening his own pizzeria.