For the second year in a row, the Bayonne Community News and the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to stage an annual Bayonne’s Best Pizza Challenge. They are hoping to make it an even better contest than last year.
“This year we’re going to feature a blind taste test at the awards ceremony,” said Chamber President Vincent Virga. “This will give pizza establishments a chance to show off their pizza.”
The contest is open to any Bayonne restaurant that makes its own pizza.
The contest will have five categories, with a winner and a first runner up for each. People can come out and support their favorite pizza or, if they are ambitious, travel to the various eateries around the city to sample a slice.
The judges will be the general public. Customers can cast their votes at designated ballot sites throughout Bayonne. Voting will also be available online. The sites and website will be announced.
In cities throughout Hudson County, quality pizza is a staple of many establishments, and though several eateries have local followings, this contest is a way to reach out to the community and allow people who might not be familiar with the quality of a restaurant’s offerings to try them.
This chamber event allows the public to choose which restaurants have the best offerings in each category. The categories include Best Regular Pizza, Best Sicilian Deep Dish Pizza, Best Thin Crust Pizza, Best Unique Pizza Topping, and Best White Pizza.
First-place winners will receive a plaque from the Chamber of Commerce, and all runners-up will be awarded a certificate at the “Chamber to Charity” event in June. The “Top Dough” winner will receive a trophy, a one-quarter page ad in the Bayonne Community News, and other prizes to be determined. Winners will also receive a significant discount on membership to the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce.
“It encourages business owners to become innovative and helps them avoid apathy and complacency.”—Vincent Virga
This well-attended annual event strives to raise money for local charities and provides another avenue to promote businesses to the community.
Restaurants will pay $300 to participate, but the winners will get bragging rights for a whole year after which they will clash again for the title. “We had eight pizzerias last year; we’re hoping for 12 this year,” Virga said.
Advertisements and ballots will appear in the May 22, May 29, and June 5 issues of the Bayonne Community News, with a deadline for registration of May 15. The winners will be announced in the newspaper in mid-June and awards issued at a June Chamber event, where the Blind Taste Off will take place.
Each participant will bring a few plain pizzas the night of the event to be judged in a Blind Taste Off by a panel of three judges, Virga said. The winner will be named “Top Dough”—the best Pizza in Bayonne.
“We’ll have three judges, and the first-place winners in each category will bring in some of their pizzas for a bind taste test,” Virga said.
Virga said this was more than just what pizzeria has the most popular pizza.
“This is about pride and competition, and about community,” he said. “It’s about getting together and giving back to the community.”
He said the general public may never have heard of a pizzeria, and as a result of the contest may go to visit it to check out the product.
The contest also gives businesses a chance to promote themselves and get their names out into the public in order to get votes.
“It encourages business owners to become innovative and helps them avoid apathy and complacency,” Virga said.
Contests such as the pizza contest, he said, push business owners to look more closely at strategies for promoting themselves, especially because this contest requires patrons and the public to vote on their favorite pizza. Business owners have to pay attention to how they get customers to access the ballots in order to vote.
“One pizzeria made sure there was a flyer with every delivery,” Virga said. “The Mona Lisa put the web link on their customer receipts.”
Residents who have their own personal favorites might encourage the business owners to join in what is certain to become a hotly discussed contest. And since residents will be the judge, every restaurant has a chance to shine.
“We at the chamber are sure that this event will be a hit for years to come,” Virga said.
To register a business, call (201) 436-4333 or email the Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.