Pizza Contest Epilogue

The third annual Best Pizza in Grand Forks Contest is history. For pizza lovers, it was a night to remember.

Six Grand Forks’ pizzerias competed in the contest, which was established as a part of Neighborhood Networks Week, an annual celebration at over 1,400 Neighborhood Networks Learning Centers nationwide. In Grand Forks, there are four Neighborhood Networks Centers that are owned and operated by Grand Forks Homes, Inc. and the Grand Forks Housing Authority, which sponsored the event.

For the third straight year, Rhombus Guys won the coveted “People’s Choice” category (voted on by all in attendance) for its T Rex creation, a meat-lover’s pizza. The other categories were Kids’ Choice, Most Creative, Best Crust, Best Value and Best Gourmet pizza. The Kids’ Choice category featured judges ages 5-12 who are residents of LaGrave Place, one of the Neighborhood Network centers. (For story on contest and other results, go to  www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/128755/.)

The freewill offerings went to the local Neighborhood Networks Learning Centers, which serve people of all ages, helping them thrive in the areas of education, physical, mental, and social wellness and self-sufficiency.

I was lucky enough to be one of the guest judges, which also included Greg Lotysz, Kathy Sukalski, Kevin Dean, Mark Goodman, Rockin’ Rick Acker, Rocky Graziano, Thomasine Heitkamp and Terry Brown. The event was emceed by Tony Trimarco, director of UND’s Memorial Union.

Most of the pizzas in the contest were loaded with meat, as my co-worker Tu-Uyen Tran reported in the Herald. While I love just about any kind of pizza and feel fortunate to have so many good places to get them in town (despite what some have said in comments on the Herald Web site), I generally go for ones that are on the meatless side.

With that in mind, here’s one that recently caught my fancy that vegetarians might like. It reminds me of one I used to order at the Italian Moon 30 years ago. At that time, I was a vegetarian and lamented the fact that there were no places that had specialty pizzas that were meatless. Shortly after that, Ken Towers, owner of the Moon, added a vegetarian pizza to the menu. He still reminds me of that whenever I see him.

Now, just about every pizza place in town has a vegetarian version.

Onion, Pepper and Mushroom Pizza
1 (10 or 12-inch) thin-crust pizza base
Olive oil spray
1 large, ripe tomato, sliced (about 1½ cups)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ounces part-skim milk mozzarella cheese, sliced
2½ cups sliced baby bello mushrooms
1 bell pepper (red, yellow or green), sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place pizza base on the foil and spray with olive oil. Arrange tomato slices on top in a single layer, overlapping as necessary. Sprinkle on oregano and top with mozzarella slices. Spread mushrooms over the cheese and bell pepper and onions on top of the mushrooms. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 699 calories (26 percent from fat), 20.3 grams fat (7.4 grams saturated, 2.7 grams monounsaturated), 32 milligrams cholesterol, 35.6 grams protein, 96.1 grams carbohydrates, 8.7 grams fiber, 1,106 milligrams sodium.

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