The aroma of tomato sauce, cheese, and sausage filled the newsroom as hungry journalists prepared to rate favorite pizzas on flavor, texture, crust, and overall excellence.
This event, held last month, was just one of The Times' newsroom's culinary endeavors which have included pie baking feats, appetizer parties and chili making competitions.
The Times' casual pizza panel included a group of 15 - featuring writers, copy editors, photographers, and designers. Copy editor Jason Paha took the helm of the current pizza project and brought in deep dish pizzas from three Chicago biggies - Gino's East, Lou Malnati's and Giordano's.
"These are generally accepted to be the best deep-dish chain pizza places in the city," said Paha. "When you think of deep-dish or stuffed pizza, this is where people generally go."
Paha said as a fan of pizza and someone who enjoys taste testing, he thought the "unofficial" contest would be a fun endeavor for the team of co-workers.
After the final votes were tabulated, Gino's East and Lou Malnati's were tied, earning 32 points each with Giordano's receiving 37 points. Malnati's had eight first-place votes while Gino's had six first-place votes. Giordano's received three first-place votes.
"It was a tough decision," said copy editor Paul Eisenberg, who's a former Aurelio's pizza employee. "But it comes down to I like the sausage on Lou's and the pizza sauce on Gino's. I like the crust on Gino's a little more, too. But I sided with Lou's as the best overall," he said.
Night editor Kerry Erickson put Gino's in first place while Malnati's took second and Giordano's placed third on her list. She said she favored Gino's overall flavor and crust.
In addition to the three chain pizzas, designer Larry Nolan brought in a thin crust pizza from Phil's in Chicago that he wanted his fellow workers to try. Nolan said it was one of his favorites.
To see The Times' taste test in action and hear comments about the pizzas, visit nwi.com.