May 1, 2016 |

A pizza party for the ages

By Pizza Today

The largest Pizza Expo rocks Las Vegas


International Pizza Expo lit up Las Vegas March 7-10, 2016, with the world’s biggest pizzeria convention. More than 460 exhibitors showcased services and wares in more than 1,000 exhibiting spaces to 11,500 operators and industry professionals.

The show’s educational program kicked off Monday, March 7, with seminars geared toward fledgling operators. The School of Pizzeria Management also held two-day intensive classes ranging from marketing to growth and expansion and creating a successful culture.

Keynote speakers, celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, Co-founder and Owner of Fresh Brothers Pizza-Salad-Wings Adam Goldberg and World Pizza Champion founder and pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani, packed in early morning crowds, offering advice and wisdom.

The impressively massive show floor allowed vendors and companies to showcase everything an operator needs and more –– from screens and peels to POS systems and ovens.

“In my nearly two decades with the company, I haven’t seen a show like this,” says Pete Lachapelle, publisher of Pizza Today and a vice president with Emerald Expositions, parent company to both Pizza Expo and the magazine. “The excitement and camaraderie was almost tangible. Aside from being able to see, touch, feel and taste thousands of items on the show floor, the educational components, demonstrations and competitions make Pizza Expo a one-stop shop for the new or experienced pizzaiolo.”

Eric Boggs, co-founder of Goodfellas Pizzeria in Lexington, Kentucky, attends International Pizza Expo annually and brought 14 team members this year. “Besides the obvious –– it’s in Las Vegas! –– we enjoy the Pizza Expo because we always find new and interesting products and equipment,” he says. “ Just like Pizza Today magazine, it’s a learning experience. Every year we get to talk to like-minded people in the industry.  That alone, allows us to learn how they’ve expanded and grown over the years.  It’s always good learning for others mistakes and success.”

Nino Coniglio: 1st place Traditional Division and Pizza Maker of the Year

Nino Coniglio: 1st place Traditional Division and Pizza Maker of the Year

The International Pizza Challenge brought together some of the world’s best pizza makers in five separate competitions: American Pan, Pizza Napoletana, Non-Traditional, Traditional and Gluten-Free. Contestants competed live before an audience using their own ingredients and were judged based on creativity, taste, appearance and adherence to style and rules. Winners were:

American Pan Division
1st — Eric Von Hansen, Caliente Pizza & Drafthouse, Pittsburgh, PA

Eric Von Hansen: 1st place Pan Division

Eric Von Hansen: 1st place Pan Division

2nd — Massimo Mannino, Marabella, Washington, NC
3rd — Tony Ganesh, Panino’s Pizzeria, Park Ridge, IL

Pizza Napoletana

1st — Cuono Pannella, Pizzeria da Nino, Acerra, Italy
2nd — Gazmir Zeneli, Rossopomodoro, Brooklyn, NY
3rd (tie) — Vito Iacopelli, Provo The Art of Pizza, West Hollywood, CA

Brian Hall: 1st place Non-Traditional Division

Brian Hall: 1st place Non-Traditional Division

Gennaro Russo, Dal Presidente, Napoli, Italy

Gluten Free
1st — Victoria Wolf, Denver, CO
2nd — Giuseppe Lucia, Zio Giglio, Lecce, Italy

3rd — Frank Baird, Franco’s Pizza, Chardon, OH

Traditional Finals
1st — Nino Coniglio, Williamsburg Pizza II Brooklyn, NY

2nd — John Vigliotti, Peppino’s,
Syracuse, NY

Cuono Panella: 1st place Napoletana Division

Cuono Panella: 1st place Napoletana Division

3rd — Jane Mines, Nima’s Pizza & More, Gassville, AR

Non-Traditional Finals
1st — Brian Hall, Tony Boombozz Pizzeria, Louisville, KY
2nd — Louie Bossi, Louie Bossi’s, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
3rd — Andrew Scudera, Goodfella’s, Staten Island, NY
In the final round of the Pizza Maker of the Year competition, Coniglio, Hall, Von Hansen and Pannella went toe to toe using the secret ingredient, a white truffle and porcini crema from Urbani Truffles, in front of a live audience. In the end, Coniglio took home top honors and will return next year to compete at the masters’ level.

The Best of the Best competition pitted four former International Pizza Challenge winners against one another in a blind-box challenge. Matt Molina of Capo’s took first, with Shawn Randazzo of Detroit-Style Pizza Co. and Tim Silva of A Pizza My Heart taking second and third, respectively.

MORE on the regional winners at

The World Pizza Games, always a crowd favorite, culminated at a party showcasing Games contestants on Wednesday evening. Taking home awards were:

Freestyle Acrobatic Dough-Tossing Open Division
1st — Hyeonsoo Joo, Mr. Pizza
2nd — Scott Volpe, Fiamme Pizza Napoletana
3rd — Simone Ingrosso, Ristorante Pizzeria

Freestyle Acrobatic Dough-Tossing Masters Division
1st — Jay Schuurman, Pizza Rock
2nd — Moonky Lee, Mr. Pizza
3rd — Justin Wadstein, Pizza My Heart

Pizza Triathlon
1st — Justin Wadstein, Pizza My Heart
2nd — Mitch Rotolo Jr., Rotolo’s Pizzeria
3rd — David Whisker, B.C. Pizza

Fastest Dough Stretch
1st — Mitch Rotolo Jr., Rotolo’s Pizzeria
2nd — Daulton Cornell, Six Hundred Downtown
3rd — Domenico Sposato, Pizzeria la conchiglia

Largest Dough Stretch
1st — Carlos Mangana, Pizza My Heart
2nd –– Giuseppe Lucia, Zio Giglio
3rd ––Spencer C. Glenn, Pizza My Heart

Fastest Box-Folding
1st –– David Whisker, B.C. Pizza
2nd –– Andy Rogers, Pizza My Heart
3rd –– Alexander Stephens, Joe’s New York Pizza and Pasta

“This year a record number of attendees converged on Las Vegas to discover what’s new, what’s working and what’s trending in the pizza industry,” says Bill Oakley, Pizza Expo’s tradeshow director. “We’re already looking towards the future and kicking around ideas and developing plans to take Pizza Expo 2017 (March 27–30, 2017) to whole new level.”