By Charlie Pogacar

For years, Jim Mirabelli wrote anonymous pizzeria reviews on his website, NEPA Pizza Review, in relative obscurity. As he began to gain some traction—gaining maybe 1,000 followers, he estimated—he heard a common refrain: His followers wanted video reviews. 

This was about the last thing Mirabelli wanted to do. A business administrator in a public school district, he’d been enjoying the low-stakes passion project of writing about local pizzerias, helping promote small businesses one review at a time. You might say he was the opposite of a fame-thirsty camera hog. 

On the other hand, Mirabelli would do just about anything to help the pizzerias that populate the region of the area where he grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. If enough people were telling him that video reviews were the way to go, he was willing to try it. 

Related: How Jim Mirabelli Became Pizza Royalty in Pennsylvania

“I think that’s when it really started picking up steam,” Mirabelli said on the latest episode of Peel: A PMQ Pizza podcast. “When I put a face to it, a name to it, and really owned it, NEPA Pizza Review got on the gas pedal and…I know there are people growing faster than me, but the growth, in my opinion, was just so unexpected.” 

With the lead man outed, Mirabelli’s social media presence has become an institution. His Facebook following has ballooned to over 31,000; on Instagram he has over 21,700 followers. To many in the pizza-hungry region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Mirabelli has become a trusted source about which pizzerias to try, especially in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties.

One of the things Mirabelli has learned along the way is that his readers—and viewers—aren’t just interested in the pizza he’s eating. In fact, they seem far more interested in who made the pizza and how their pizzeria came to be. 

“When I started realizing the value of telling the story—and not just giving my opinion on pizza—and trying to bring that local business’s story to life, I got to know myself better and got to know my message better,” Mirabelli said.

For Mirabelli, that means he doesn’t “eat pizza with toppings [he] can’t pronounce.” He wants to stay authentic and true to his voice by being himself—and that’s what seems to have resonated with his following the most. 

To hear more of PMQ’s podcast interview with Jim Mirabelli, check out one of the following links: 




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