by: Jessica Fera Updated:PITTSBURGH —
Nearly 2,000 votes were submitted on WPXI.com and on Tuesday, I surprised the winners of the 2012 Pittsburgh's Best Pizza contest.
VIDEO: WPXI surprises Pittsburgh's Best Pizza winners
Finishing in 3rd place was Mandy's Pizza, with locations in West View and the North Side.
This wasn't Mandy's first award, and now owner Steve Negri has another plaque to add to his wall. So what's his secret to success?
"We care about our customers," Steve said. "We care about the product we put out. That's why we use very unique products and high quality products. And this just validates it for us. We do not use sauce out of a can, we use the best cheese on the market, and the dough is ours. It's a generation's old recipe. It's not a frozen dough off the back of a truck."
And Mandy's has another claim to fame.
"We are the only pizzeria in the world to make an allergen free pizza. And that's for our son, who suffers from severe food allergies," Steve said.
From West View to New Brighton, Wooley Bully's took home our 2nd place award.
Even though it was early in the day when we arrived, the bar was packed full of loyal patrons.
"We absolutely love to support Wooley Bully's," said customer Tricia Sofranko. "It's a great establishment, family filled, fun place. Great service, good prices and awesome, awesome pizza."
"We have some amazing customers that would go out and do this for us," said Wooley Bully's co-owner Victor Stahl. "And they really were a big push for it all."
The customers love Victor and his very creative pizzas.
"I do the traditional stuff too, but I do a lot of things out of the box," Victor said. I do pot roast calzones, wedding soup pizzas, chili cheese dog pizzas, we just have fun with it. All the dough, I don't use a machine to make the dough. It's made by hand. It's crispy on the outside and really chewy and tender on the inside."
Another pizzeria serving up made from scratch pies is Slice on Broadway in Beechview, our 1st place winner.
PHOTOS: WPXI surprises Pittsburgh's Best Pizza winners
"When you unveiled the plaque to us, it was better than I ever thought it could be," said co-owner Joe Ciotti.
"It felt like winning the Super Bowl," said co-owner Rico Lunardi. "Considering I'll never have the pleasure of doing that. So this is our next best thing. Number one champions for pizza."
Joe and Rico opened Slice less than two years ago in a neighborhood known for great pizza.
"People told us in the beginning, 'You're crazy to open up in this area here,' and with Joe's recipes and how we make our pizzas, we thought we'd prove them wrong and I think we did that today," Rico said.
Slice won not only the public vote portion of our contest, but the taste test, too.
"We use the freshest ingredients we can get. We use the best version of everything that we can get, best tomatoes we can get. We make our own sauce, make our own dough, shred our own cheese even. I think that Rico my partner and I just share a real passion for the product, so I think that passion appears in the pizzas we make and makes them great."
Congratulations to Slice on Broadway for being named Pittsburgh's Best Pizza.
As this is my last Pittsburgh's Best contest (I've accepted a position as the producer/director of Channel 11's new commercial production studio, Studio 11), I want to say that I'm proud to have been a part of it for the past two years. When I started Pittsburgh's Best in 2010, I never imagined it would last this long or get this big, and I can't wait to see where the contest goes from here.
Thank you to all of the great local business owners I've gotten to meet and work with throughout the contest. You're such an important part of what makes Pittsburgh the best.
WPXI viewers submitted nearly 2,000 nominations and our judges put the Top 10 to the test. View the results below from the blind taste test held at the Channel 11 studios.
Each pizzeria was required to submit one plain cheese pizza and one specialty pizza for the taste test. We determined the overall contest winners by combining their taste test score and public voting score.
TOP 10 FINALISTS:
- Angelia's Pizza, Imperial
- A'Pizza Badamo, Mt. Lebanon
- Frank's Pizza & Chicken, Millvale, Shaler, Troy Hill & Ross
- Mandy's Pizza, West View & North Side -- 2nd Place Taste Test Winner -- 3rd Place Overall Winner
- Mineo's Pizza, Squirrel Hill & Mt. Lebanon -- 3rd Place Taste Test Winner (Tie)
- Pizza House (Police Station Pizza), Ambridge
- Slice on Broadway, Beechview -- 1st Place Taste Test Winner -- 1st Place Overall Winner!
- Spak Brothers Pizza & More, Bloomfield
- Supremo's Pizzeria, Mars
- Wooley Bully's, New Brighton -- 3rd Place Taste Test Winner (Tie) -- 2nd Place Overall Winner
*Fiori's Pizzaria was nominated but declined to participate.
1. The Top 10 Pizzas will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the pizzerias to participate.
2. The nomination process will open Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at noon and close Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 at noon. Our finalists will be determined at that time.
3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios during the week of Feb. 13th. Each finalist must deliver a sample of their pizza (one cheese pizza and a specialty pizza of their choice) for the test. If a pizzeria does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.
4. Voting will open to the public Friday, Feb. 17th at noon on WPXI.com and close Friday, Feb. 24th at noon.
5. The winners will be revealed during the week of Feb. 27th. Award plaques will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.
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