Northern Indiana Pizza Wars to follow path similar to last year's Burger Wars

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

Mention a pizza contest, and people get a little excited.

The Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission announced this week that pizza joints from seven counties could compete in this year’s Northern Indiana Pizza Wars. Restaurant owners started clamoring for how to enter. Eaters started proclaiming on social media about their favorites.

“We have people jumping the gun excited,” said Robby Bearss, marketing manager for the commission. One Valparaiso restaurant already posted that it will be in the running for the best pizza in Indiana, though the process for nominations or how a restaurant becomes part of the contest not only hasn’t been announced, but hasn’t even been developed yet.

Bearss said what the organizers do know is that it will follow roughly the same format as Northern Indiana Burger Wars.

“All seven counties have good pizza restaurants,” he said. However, unlike the specific burgers that competed off in Burger Wars, it’s more likely that a restaurant will be nominated for its type of pizza rather than a specific pie, he said.

Eight pizza places from seven Indiana counties will be in the contest. Last year, the counties got restaurants into the contest in a variety of ways. In Elkhart County, the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau asked me to help. I asked readers to help. The bureau picked eight places based on the recommendations and voters took it from there. Flippin’ Cow finished second overall in the voting, behind South Bend’s The View Tavern.

The voting could begin in early summer and continue through late June, Bearss said. Last year the voting ended the first week of July, and they may shorten that by a week, he said.

Other details haven’t been worked out yet.

I’d like to see two things.

  1. Flavor 574 readers should play a big role in recommending restaurants in as many of the counties as possible. Just because an eater wants his or her favorite restaurant in the contest doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We’ll give you a chance in the coming months to do this more formally than posting a comment on the story or social media.
  2. Some sort of joint eating effort. Could we form a team to try the nominated pizzas? I don’t know, but I desperately hope we have some fun with this.

My second quest for the “best of” in Elkhart County was a search for the best pizza in 2004. Antonio’s in Elkhart won best pizzeria and Chicago’s Downtown Eatery in Bristol had the best pizza back then.

Long before that, an Elkhart Truth Pizza Team searched for the best pizza and Colombo’s in Elkhart won.

Volcano, Colombo’s, Venturi, Antonio’s. Elkhart County has more great pizza places than most places its size. The other counties in our area have great ones too. It’s going to be quite a ride this summer.

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