Wood-fired pizzas are sliced in this file photo. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

Pizza. It’s the perfect food. It’s as comforting as chicken soup, as convenient as fast food, and it can be as fancy or as basic as you want. It’s as American as apple pie, and simultaneously as Italian as the Mona Lisa. What other dish is as delicious vegetarian as it is with meat? What other food is so readily available in every corner of the world?

Everyone has an opinion on pizza, too. Which is better: thin crust or doughy? How much cheese is best? How much sauce? Is pineapple OK or is it an affront to humanity?

Given the vast array of options in the Bangor area, we at the Bangor Daily News thought it was time to put all the pizza places in the Queen City and immediately surrounding towns to the test, with our first-ever March Madness-style bracket competition for local food.

Thirty-two pizza places, ranging from sit-down restaurants to gas stations. Five rounds. And a final four that will be judged not just by you, the reader, but also a panel of local judges. A judges’ choice and a readers’ choice for the best pizza in the Bangor area will be announced on March 24.

In order to keep this competition within reasonable parameters, we’ve opted to include only the businesses and restaurants that serve pizza that are in the Penobscot County towns that traditionally make up the Bangor area: Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Eddington, Orono, Old Town, Orrington, Hermon, Holden, Glenburn and Veazie. We are also limiting it to locally owned establishments and Maine-only chains (sorry, Amato’s).

Are you ready to vote? Here’s the round of 32, or as we’re calling it, the Toothsome 32. We’ve set up these matchups randomly. The second round will begin Wednesday, and the third Friday. The final four will be judged next week, by you and by our judges.

Good luck, and may the best slice win!

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.