• Grace Garrett’s Italian Beef Pizza claimed top honors in the recent Marco’s Pizza Mash-Up contest.
  • The pie features slow-braised Vienna Italian beef, cheese, roasted sweet peppers and spicy giardiniera.

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Is it a sandwich or a pizza? Who says a menu item can’t be both? For National Sandwich Month in August, Toledo, Ohio-based Marco’s Pizza surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to find out what sandwich flavor they’d want to eat as a pizza. Eighty-six percent said, well, any sandwich flavor works just fine.

But Marco’s took it one step further with a national contest titled “Marco’s Pizza Mash-Up.” Customers were asked to share what sandwich they wished they could indulge in as a pizza at Marco’s. The grand prize: free pizza for a year.

Grace Garrett of Atlanta submitted the winning combo, which Chef Andy Dismore, Marco’s senior director of culinary innovation, selected out of 500-plus entries. Garrett proposed the Italian Beef Pizza, featuring slow-braised Vienna Italian beef on a made-from-scratch crust, topped with pizza sauce, Marco’s signature three-cheese blend, roasted sweet peppers and spicy giardiniera.

In addition to free pizza for a year, Garrett won a Pizza Lovers prize pack, which includes a pizza pool float, a pizza board, oven mitts, shakers, pizza socks, sunglasses and koozies. She will also enjoy a VIP pizza-making experience with Dismore at her local Marco’s restaurant.

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“I entered for fun, but never really expected to actually win,” Garrett said. “My mouth waters every time I think about the flavor profile of an Italian Beef Pizza, and I can’t wait to try it! It’s going to be such an incredible experience being able to create this pizza with Marco’s Chef Andy alongside my friends and family. We’re planning on donating some of the pizzas from our VIP pizza-making experience to the homeless in our community as well.”

Dismore said he was “blown away by the hundreds of creative entries.” He added, “There’s an art and science to blending flavors and textures, and when I read through Grace’s submission, I knew we had a winner. Her flavor combinations will take our already craveable golden crust, savory sauce and fresh signature cheese blend to new heights in a mouthwatering, melty bite of pure deliciousness.”

The Marco’s Pizza Mash-Up contest followed the summertime launch of Marco’s latest LTOs: The Philly Cheesesteak Pizza and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza & Pizza Bowls.

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