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Pavarazzi, Bella Vista Win Pigout

Ottawa tradition attracts 37 competing pizzerias


April 18, 2008
By James Careless

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OTTAWA – It’s all over but the crying in Ottawa pizza circles.

Ottawa tradition attracts 37 competing pizzerias

 pizzapigout
Former Ottawa Rough Rider Glenn Kulka hams it up at the 6th annual Ottawa Sun Pizza Pigout.

OTTAWA – It’s all over but the crying in Ottawa pizza circles.

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Pavarazzi’s Gourmet Pizza and the Bella Vista Restaurant took top honours in the 6th Annual Pizza Pigout, hosted by the Ottawa Sun at the St. Elias Community Centre in May.

The Pizza Pigout has become a tradition in the nation’s capital. It’s a chance for residents to gorge on pizza while raising money for the Ottawa Food Bank, and for the 37 different pizzerias who registered as contestants to put their best to the test.

Although the Pizza Pigout is undeniably a high-profile event – bolstered by the local celebrities who serve as judges – does capturing first place make any difference to the winner’s bottom line?

“For sure it does,” answered Pavarazzi owner David Nehme, whose restaurant placed first in the specialty class this year. “People come in and say, ‘we saw your name in the Ottawa Sun!’”

“Once the results came out, there was a mad rush to our restaurant,” Robert Swaita said. Swaita owns Ottawa’s KS Restaurant, which won first place in the combo category last year. “We couldn’t keep up.”

In addition to the sales boost, topping the Pizza Pigout gives the winners some serious bragging rights. Small wonder: Their pizzas are rated by a host of judges, each of who must taste and score at least three pies on a scale of 1-10.

“Please be picky, consistent, and thoroughly think through your score,” admonished the judges’ scoring sheet. “If you would like to judge more than three just ask any server for another score card.”

If the copious amount of pizza the judges consumed is anything to go by, many did.
Having said that, the Ottawa Food Bank is the real winner from these annual pizzafests. This year $7,000 was raised by the 300 people who ate at the competition – about $500 more than was raised last year.

The event also generated a lot of attention for the Ottawa Food Bank – attention that helps encourage public donations.

“It’s a good cause,” said Moe Adallah of Moe’s World Famous Newport Restaurant, which donates pizzas to feed the volunteer servers and kitchen staff.

“It’s a fun night out to raise money for charity,” added event organizer Jo Nuttall
Which begs the question: What’s the secret for winning the Pizza Pigout?
“Quality ingredients,” replied David Nehme.

Moreover, these quality ingredients must be used in everything the contestants make, because the custom is not to prepare the entrant pizzas differently from those sold to the general public.

This is why “We don’t tell the chef which pizzas are going to be entered in the contest,” Nehme said.

“We just call for three combos and three customs from the kitchen, grab ‘em and go,” Swaita added.

For the record: Capilano won second prize in the 6th Annual Pizza Pigout’s specialty category, and third prize went to Toppers. Meanwhile, Louis’ Restaurant & Pizzeria was the second place winner in the combo class, while La Dolce Vita picked up the third.•