Pizza & pasta makers take home top prizes in Atlantic City
Talented pizza, pasta and calzone makers converge onto the Atlantic City Convention Center to find out who makes the best pizza, pasta and calzones. Pizza and Pasta Northeast hosted four competitions including Best of the Northeast, Young Pizza Maker of the Year, Northeast Pasta Showdown and the first-ever World Calzone Championship.
Best of the Northeast
In packed days, competitors battle for the title of Best of the Northeast in three categories: Traditional, Non-Traditional and Neapolitan.
The Traditional Division took center stage in the competition area Sunday. The category represents to staples of pizzeria menus. Competitors were instructed to make a red sauce pizza with cheese/cheese blend and no more than two of the following toppings may be added: Pepperoni, Sausage, Bacon, Ham, Mushrooms, Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions and Olives.
The sold-out field brought their A game with their unique takes on classic pies.
First-time competitor Jimmy Casapizziolo from Casa Pizzeria in Ludlow, Massachusetts, took first place in the Traditional Division.
Anthony Berghela of Romo’s Pizza in Slingerlands, New York placed second.
Bill Cornell of Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza in Joplin, Missouri placed third.
The Non-Traditional Division is the anything goes category with no restrictions on styles, dough, sauce or topping and features creativity and innovation. In addition to the division prizes, the highest scoring Roman Style Pizza was named.
Cristina Smith of State of Mind Pizzeria and Public House in Los Altos, California was named Roman Style Best of the Northeast.
Cristina Smith went on to receive first place in the Non-Traditional Division.
Brandon Bryant of Hudson and Packard in Hyde Park, New York, placed second.
Jeff Smokevitch of Blue Pan Pizza in Denver took third place.
The Pizza Napoletana Division may have the strictest restrictions for competitors to replicate the classic Italian pizza. The products that provide the base for “Pizza Napoletana” include wheat-flour type “00” with the addition of flour type “0” natural yeast, water, peeled San Marzano DOP tomatoes and/or fresh cherry tomatoes, marine salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine and may be no more than 3 mm (1/8 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 485o C (905o F) pizza oven. There are three official variants: Pizza Napoletana Marinara which is made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, oregano, sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil; Pizza Napoletana Margherita Extra made with pressed, peeled tomatoes or chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced mozzarella di bufala DOP, fresh basil, sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil; and Pizza Napoletana Margherita made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, sliced mozzarella STG, or Fior di Latte Appennino, basil, sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil.
Jay Jadeja of The Onion Tree Gastropub in Sea Cliff, New York took first place.
Daniele Gagliotta placed second.
Daniele Caridi of Chicago, Illinois, placed third.
Young Pizza Maker of the Year
For the first time, Pizza and Pasta Northeast names the Young Pizza Maker of the Year from a field of 16- to 18-year-old pizza makers. The competition was Non-Traditional and had no restrictions on dough, sauce, toppings and/or styles.
Michael Testa of Jersey Boys Pizza has won Young Pizza Maker of the Year.
Northeast Pasta Showdown
Competitors presented their pasta dishes that could include any combination of ingredients, sauces and toppings. Pastas were judged on trueness to Italian cuisine’s basic tenets: technique; presentation; flavor balance and taste.
Daniel Saccone of Saccone’s Pizza & Subs in Leander, Texas took first place.
Gerry Buontempo, Frank’s Pizza & Pasta, Baltimore, Maryland, placed second.
Carlos Camargo Martinez, Fusaro Pizza, Manahawkin, New Jersey, placed third.
World Calzone Championship
The first-ever World Calzone Championship featured baked calzone using any combination of ingredients, cheeses and sauces. Calzones were scored on a 1 to 10 scale on the basis of taste, creativity, execution, visual appearance and ease of preparation.
John Vigliotti of Peppino’s Restaurant & Catering, Syracuse, New York took first place.
Will Grant of Sourdough Willy’s Pizzeria in Kingston, Washington, placed second.
Genmaro Buontempo of Franks Pizza & Pasta in Baltimore, Maryland placed third.