The Adams Family Pizza Quest Comes to an End…

Pizza may not fit your definition of comfort food, but it comes close in our family.

A semi-tradition for many years in our family has been Friday Night Pizza and a movie, usually consisting of whatever local pizza store (almost always one of the national chains) had the best deal going on. On the same trip, we would go by the video store and pick up a DVD to watch.

Netflix and then Amazon Prime changed part of the equation, but the pizza part remained intact.

As the years went by and our family dwindled, pretty soon it was just Anita and I – functional empty nesters, as our youngest son was a full-time culinary student and worked in a restaurant, or was out with friends. Along with that change came a realization that there were a lot of pizza restaurants in and around Charlotte – 371 by my count on Urban Spoon in 2011. I pondered (and my wife Anita humored me): what if we go out for pizza on Friday nights, and try a different place every time?

Thus was born the Adams Family Pizza Quest.


I lead the Adams Family Pizza Quest, a weekly pursuit of the quintessential pizza. My family and I  (well, mostly me; the rest just humor me) utilize a 5-slice rating system that measures menu selection, crust, base ingredients, toppings, overall pizza goodness and ambiance of the restaurant. I actually have a nerd version that has 35 points, but after a round of boos and garlic knots thrown in my direction I hastily retired it.

After almost three years of weekly excursions, only 1 pizza has earned 5 slices. That would be The Sicilian – Red sauce, sausage, cappicola, salami, oregano, basil, pecorino-romano and fontina – accompanied by an Italian Chopped Salad, from WaterStone Wood Fired Pizza in Lynchburg, VA. Anita and I stumbled on it by accident, walking downtown along the river.

Several others have earned 4 1/2 slices, many have earned 4, and a lot have earned 3. We’ve only encountered a few 2 slices, and in all honestly, not a single 1 slice rating (maybe we just naturally steered away from those joints).

Our favorite local pizza place is Zio’s Casual Italian off Providence Road. It was one of our early discoveries, earning a strong 4 3/4 slices; somehow we have found our way back there several times, taking friends who haven’t heard of it.

Other top restaurants are Mama Riccotta’s, Luisa’s Brick Oven, The Brickhouse Tavern, and Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven.

I could go on, but I won’t, as the Adams Family Pizza Quest comes to a close (sort of). After over 100 different visits in the greater Charlotte area, and a few across the country, my sense of adventure for pursuing the perfect pie has waned. Mind you, my taste for pizza hasn’t – I’m sure we will still be eating pizza on a regular basis.

But, it’s a new year, and time for new adventures.

Stay tuned…


What’s Up with Olympic Scoring?

Watching the Olympics is a biannual tradition in the Adams household. Of the two of us, my wife is hands down the biggest sports fan in the family.

I’m just trying to figure out how to keep score. 

Basketball I’ve got covered: shots from behind the free-throw line are 1 point each. Shots inside the arc are 2 points each, and shots scored outside the arc are 3 points each. At the end of regulation play, the team with the highest score wins.

There are lots of other sports in the Olympics with similar scoring rules – I’m pretty good with them. But then it starts to get complicated.

In gymnastics, scoring is a 2-tier system with technical difficulty which starts at 0 and points are added for the performance difficulty combined with execution and technique which starts at 10 and points are subtracted as mistakes are made. I would probably meet myself coming and going – it’s no wonder coaches and judges are always glaring at each other. Then there’s that visible money changing hands thing…

What about diving? A judge in a diving contest shall award from 0 to 10 points for a dive according to his or her overall impression using the following criteria:

–       10: Excellent

–       8½ – 9½: Very good

–       7 – 8: Good

–       5 – 6½: Satisfactory

–       2½ – 4½: Deficient

–       ½ – 2: Unsatisfactory

–       0: Completely Failed

If that wasn’t complicated enough, you move to synchronized diving and get two competitors diving simultaneously from the springboards or platform. The competition is judged on how the two divers individually perform their dives, and how the two divers as a team synchronize their performance. The factors to be considered when judging synchronized diving are:
- the starting position, the approach and the take-off, including the similarity of the height
- the coordinated timing of the movements during the flight
- the similarity of the angles of the entries
- the comparative distance from the springboard or platform of the entry
- the coordinated timing of the entries…(insert snoring sounds here).

How about trampolining? It’s a math formula where the score = difficulty + execution + time of flight. The difficulty is measured from 0 up and the execution is measured from 10 down. Heaven help the judge who meets in the middle! The time of flight (debuting at these Olympics) is measured by digital device. Here’s the kicker: the athlete must begin and end their routine on flat feet – with the landing being held for 3 seconds. Have you ever tried to stop on a trampoline?

With the Olympics singular nod to equality of the sexes, there is the equestrian events, where the rider who finishes the course with the fewest penalties in the fastest time gets the best score. Men and women compete together.

Finally, let’s head out to the water for Olympic Sailing. There are two races: Fleet Racing is run on a low points system; the boat at the end of the competition with the least number of points wins. Then there’s Match Racing – each match is sailed between two boats, with the first boat to cross the finish line the winner, receiving one point. The team with the highest core wins. One can only hope the captains don’t get their races mixed up.

As for me, I will continue to watch the 2012 Summer Olympics from the comfort of my recliner, occasionally participating in our family’s own competition that’s been running for over a year now: The Adams Family Pizza Quest.

There’s no scoring difficulty here: try out new pizza restaurants and rate them on a 5 slice (by half slice increments) scale:

1 – a complete failure in every way

2 – barely functional; won’t be back or recommend to friends

3 – serious flaws; the jury is still out

4 – downsides outweigh the upsides

5 – recommended with reservations

6 – a solid meal with some issues

7 – very good, but not quite great

8 – excellent, with a little room to grow

9 – nearly flawless; we’ll be back again with friends

10 – metaphysical and culinary perfection

I’m enjoying the Olympics best when I don’t worry about the score – how about you?