From Chattanooga, Tennessee to Canastota, New York, the PMQ crew visits with top pizza trendsetters and moneymakers.
PMQ’s Pizzamobile visits pizzerias in New York, Ohio and Tennessee, with a trip to NAPICS planned for February.
At 94 years old, famed boxing manager Tony Graziano still shows up to work every day at his pizza shop in Canastota, New York.
Canastota, New York—Graziano’s
Each year, hordes of fans descend upon the tiny town of Canastota, New York, for the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. PMQ’s Tracy Morin joined the throngs at local-favorite hangout Graziano’s (grazianos-cny.com), a now-historic Italian restaurant and bar headed by 94-year-old Tony Graziano, the beloved ex-boxing manager who remains at the business every day, meeting and greeting customers. A full menu of his family’s recipes, including their now-iconic pizza, satisfies a slew of dine-in, to-go and curbside pickup customers year-round.
Medina, Ohio—Master Pizza
The Groupon U.S. Pizza Team held its Northeast National Pizza Trials at Master Pizza (masterpizza.com) in late October, and Lenny Rago of Via Pizzeria 1-2-3 (viapizza123.com) took home the top prize. Rago’s Neapolitan-style pie, the Burratina, featured housemade fennel sausage, pepperoni, provolone cheese, burrata cheese and shaved Parmesan, topped with fresh basil and olive oil. Rago’s brother Gino, owner of Panino’s Pizza (paninospizzeria.com) in Chicago, won second place with his Grandma Stuffed Green Pepper and Sausage Pie and also won the Competitor’s Choice Award. The event was sponsored by U.S. Foods, Sysco Foods and Holiday Sausage and co-hosted by Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria (samoskyspizza.com).
Gatlinburg, Tennessee—Big Daddy’s Pizzeria & Smoky Mountain Brewery
On vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, PMQ’s Brian Hernandez couldn’t help mixing business with pleasure. He dropped in on Smoky Mountain Brewery (smoky-mtn-brewery.com) for a visit with managers Brandon Kizer and Tammy Perkins, then swung over to Big Daddy’s (bigdaddyspizzeria.net), where he interviewed co-owner Jon Wimmer and assistant manager Dakota McCoig. He also made the rounds at Three Jimmy’s Family Restaurant (threejimmys.com), known for its artisan pizzas, burgers and ribs, and Best Italian (bestitalian.com), specializing in New York-style pies, pasta dinners and garlic rolls.
Columbus, Ohio—North America Pizza & Ice Cream Show
Football legend Archie Griffin will deliver the keynote address at this year’s NAPICS event, the country’s largest pizza and ice cream trade show, to be held January 24 to 25. The Columbus native and two-time Heisman Trophy winner will talk about leadership and team motivation in his speech. Meanwhile, top pizza makers will compete for the “Best of the Midwest “ title in the annual Pizza Pizzazz competition. More than 110 pizzaioli battled it out for the $15,000 cash prize in last year’s contest, and past winners have said their pizzerias’ sales have jumped an average of 30% after their victories. In other words, this is a can’t-miss event for people who are serious about making great pizza, and PMQ will be there!
Chattanooga, Tennessee—The Groupon U.S. Pizza Team National Pizza Trials
Pizza makers vying for a spot on the Groupon U.S. Pizza Team will bring their best recipes to host venue Mellow Mushroom (mellowmushroom.com) on Broad Street. The National Pizza Trials will take place December 8 to 9 and will feature both a culinary competition and an acrobatics contest spotlighting the most talented dough spinners in the business. Winners in both competitions secure membership in the Groupon U.S. Pizza Team and will qualify for a trip to Italy and a chance to participate with the world’s best pizzaioli and pizzathletes.