The First Annual Pizza Wars

I was recently contacted to be a judge at the first annual Pizza Wars at the Jewish Community Center in Maitland. The event was a lot of fun, and there was a great turnout by the participants as well as the crowd. For $10 adult tickets, $5 for children, or $25 for a family of four, guests were able to dine on pizza all evening from 5 local vendors. Proceeds went to benefit the children’s scholarship fund, particularly to send kids to camp. In all, they were able to raise over $2000 for the evening.

The 5 participating restaurants were Pizzeria Valdiano, Anthony’s Pizza of Altamonte Springs, Mellow Mushroom, NYPD Pizzeria, and Carlucci’s Pizza Restaurant of Winter Park. Everyone offered a variety of pizzas, and some very unique ones for the crowd to sample. Pizzeria Valdiano offered a pizza, with feta, salmon and capers, which wasn’t for my taste but definitely something the crowd enjoyed. One that I really enjoyed was Carlucci’s onion ring pizza with ketchup instead of tomato sauce. While I don’t see myself ordering it often, it was unique and fun to try, as was their peanut butter and jelly pizza (which I assume was a dessert pizza).

There were several awards given out for the evening. Pizzeria Valdiano picked up the first award for most creative pizzas, which I would attribute to their salmon and capers pizza. Anthony’s Pizza won the Kid’s Choice, which may not be the most prestigious award, but I really enjoyed their pizza as well. Pizzeria Valdiano picked up another award with the People’s Choice, and both Pizzeria Valdiano and Carlucci’s Pizza shared top honors with judges choice.

There were also games and activities, including a hula hoop contest, and some group dances. While Pizzeria Valdiano is far from my favorite pizzeria, I have to give them credit for their participation. If there were an award for most fun or most entertaining, it would go to those guys. They really had a good time with the activities, and made me rethink my opinion of them.

I’d like to thank Julie Varkonyi and Crystal of the Jewish Community Center in Maitland for inviting me to judge the contest. It was a great time, and I hope they continue the tradition next year. I’d also like to thank Donna Wilhelm, publisher of Life in Altamonte Springs City Magazine, and Jason Freed. While we didn’t always agree on pizza, we still had a great experience.

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  1. I am just throwing this out there if you have the same kids choice as the kids enjoyed a PB&j pizza and a ketchup cheese and onion ring pizza wouldn’t you serve better as a judge to either a childrens’ playland or a burger joint? I just have to question the qualifications if you are going to critique a pizza competition and enjoy the pies that barely resemble pizza at all.

    1. While I did enjoy both the peanut butter and jelly pizza and the ketchup and onion rings pizza, I would not recommend those particular pizzas if someone was looking for good pizza in town. One of our criteria for judging was creativity, and I found both these pizzas very creative. If it weren’t for experimentation with food, we would only have cheese pizza, if that. Not that long ago, buffalo wings were unheard of. Chicken wings were seen as worthless, containing very little meat for a large amount of work, but someone decided to try something different deep frying the wings and adding sauce. It wasn’t until buffalo wings came along that chicken wings were a national favorite, both at restaurants, and at home, often along side pizza.

      I don’t know why Anthony’s Pizza was the kids’ choice, but I really enjoyed their plain pizza. I didn’t see much from them in the way of creativity, but they made a good cheese pizza, and maybe that’s what they wanted to focus on. That could be why it was the kids’ choice, as kids often don’t care for toppings.

      I fully understand you may not agree with my choices with food. Taste is highly subjective. My favorite places may be downright disgusting to you and vice versa.

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