Picking which pizzeria to visit can sometimes boil down to habit and convenience, but a new promotional contest now underway in New Orleans asks locals to branch out and take a critical look at a wide variety of pizzerias now working in different styles around town.
“I feel like New Orleans is actually paying attention to pizza now, and I want people to see what’s happening in this city,” says local restaurateur Jeff Baron.
He’s an owner of three players in the scene — the Crescent Pie & Sausage Co., the Dough Bowl and Pizzicare — and in February he helped launch Pizza Wars to promote some of these restaurants and highlight the change in the scene.
“I’d like to see a real appreciation for how far pizza has come in New Orleans,” he says.
Pizza Wars continues through April 15 and offers people willing to eat at 10 different pizza restaurants before that time the chance to vote on their favorite and enter a drawing for prizes (see details below).
The participating pizzerias are Ancora, Crescent Pie & Sausage Co., the Dough Bowl (1039 Broadway, 861-2200), Louisiana Pizza Kitchen (the French Quarter location), the Midway, Pizza Delicious, Pizzicare, and any location of Reginelli’s Pizzeria, Slice Pizzeria and Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza.
This roster by no means covers the full range of pizza around town, but the fact that your own favorite pizza place might not be in the running is, in a way, evidence of the changes in the local options. Of the ten pizzerias participating, five have opened since Hurricane Katrina, and, of those, three (Ancora, the Midway, Pizzicare) are less than a year old.
By comparison, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen is the senior senator, getting its start in the 1980s, while the local Reginelli’s chain opened its first restaurant on Magazine Street in 1996 and the first Slice Pizzeria joined the scene in 2004.
Was it hard to get restaurants competing for the same local pizza dollars to sign on for Pizza Wars? Not really, Baron says, since in addition to some promotional bounce from the contest the participating pizza shops hope to “get customers to look at what’s going on in different neighborhoods.”
With three horses in the race between his different eateries, however, Baron’s own hopes for the contest outcome is a bit conflicted.
“I’m having an inner battle every day,” he says with a laugh. “But while I own all three, the staff at each don’t necessarily associate themselves with the others. They’re into it now, they’re out to win.”
You can pick up a “passport” at any of the participating restaurants. After dining at each one, you get a stamp and once you collect all ten you can turn in your ballot at any of the restaurants. In addition to picking your favorite overall restaurant from the list, you can dissect finer points by naming your favorite sauce, best atmosphere, best beer list, best service and which has “the most 504ness,” among other metrics.
A winner will be named after April 15 and a drawing will be held of all the completed entries with prizes including a pair of Jazz Fest brass passes, gift certificates to all the restaurants and a pizza party at one restaurant. Details are on its Facebook page.