08/05/07 — Pizza makers to face off at Taste of Wayne

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Pizza makers to face off at Taste of Wayne

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 5, 2007 2:01 AM

The Taste of Wayne County is next week, but the food wars are already starting.

Pizza is always a popular food at the event, and competition for the best one is fierce.

There is no cheese or pizza sauce flying -- yet.

But come Aug. 14, the figurative food fight is on.

Brooklyn Pizzeria, Steve's Pizza Place and Pizza Inn are the three pizzerias participating in the best pizza category this year.

Although the participants are not new to the Taste, each year is a chance for another award, and the trash talk has resumed.

Brooklyn Pizzeria's acting manager Carl Rasmussen is boasting already.

"We are the best there is, the best there was, the best there will ever be," he said.

Known as the "bad boys of pizza," Brooklyn said their pizza is the best because they make everything themselves.

"We make our own dough and pizza sauce and even shred our own cheese," said Rasmussen. "We take much time and energy and do everything with pride."

At the Taste this year, Rasmussen said they will have a little bit of everything and improvise most of the pizza selections they will offer.

Some pizzerias are holding grudges about the Taste.

Brooklyn Pizzeria has won the best pizza award for 2005 and 2006 Tastes, and Pizza Inn is determined to win the award this year.

"We have been beat out by Brooklyn for two years, and it's our year to take back what we own," said Joe Stainback, manager of Pizza Inn's Ash Street location.

Voted best pizza for both 2003 and 2004, Stainback said the business's general manager is determined to get back on top.

Stainback believes their specialty pizzas will win with selections like chicken fajita, "Everything Monster" and spicy buffalo chicken, but traditional pizzas such as sausage and pepperoni will also be available.

Last year, Pizza Inn won best dessert with pineapple upside-down pizza.

This year, the restaurant will enter the best dessert category again with their winner from last year as well as cinnamon stromboli and chocolate chip pizzert.

Steve's Pizza Place is not out of the loop.

Steve's manager Angel Bullard said the business's pizza is the best because they use better and fresher products. Steve's also makes their own dough and sauce but uses whole-milk cheese "so it doesn't make the pizza greasy."

Ms. Bullard went to the Taste last year and said they will probably take the Philly cheesesteak pizza to the event this year as well as supreme, pepperoni, veggie and Italian pizzas.

"I take (Steve's pizza) home at least twice a week because my boyfriend and kids love it," said Ms. Bullard.

The Taste is coming up quickly, and the pizzeria's are ready to roll their dough to help the event raise some.

To balance out the pizza, Wayne Memorial Hospital will provide a lighter, healthier option, but their food will not be judged.

Last year, the hospital gave out samples of Dannon's Activia yogurt and pomegranate juice, and the Taste attendants "were ecstatic," said Peggy Harlan, a dietitian with the hospital.

This year, the hospital is offering trail mix.

"We always do healthy food, and we always do real well with it," said Ms. Harlan.

Whether the craving is for pizza or healthy food, the Taste will have it all.

Participating vendors this year are Mount Olive Pickle Company, Coca-Cola, Mission Foods, Wayco Ham Company, Steve's Pizza Place, Murphy's Place, Lane Tree Golf Course Grill, Pepsi Bottling Company, Culligan Water, Franklin Bakery Company, Krispy Kreme, Wing Zone, Pizza Inn, Coldstone Creamery, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Brooklyn Pizzeria, Ham's Restaurant, Bonfire's Tortilla Bar and Leby's Soul Cafe.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $12. Children under the age of 6 are free. Tickets can be purchased at Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation Center until 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13. No tickets will be sold the day of the event.