Event Wrap Ups

Published on September 9th, 2015 | by Brian Hernandez


North East Groupon U.S. Pizza Team Trials

 Chicago’s Lenny Rago wins “Best Pizza in America”

Lenny Rago of Via Pizzeria 1-2-3 and the winning “Burratina” pie

Chicago’s Lenny Rago from Via Pizzeria 1-2-3 and his brother Gino Rago from Panino’s Pizzeria took home 1st and 2nd place respectively for the “Best Pizza in America” at the Groupon United States Pizza Team Northeast National Pizza Trials Oct. 26. The event took place at Master Pizza in Medina, OH. Lenny earned top honors with his Artisan Neapolitan pizza called “Burratina.” Gino’s second-place entry was a “Grandma Stuffed Green Pepper and Sausage Pie.” Leonardo Giordano, from Mona Lisa Pizzeria in Staten Island, New York, placed 3rd with his entry dubbed “The Mona Lisa.” Gino Rago’s efforts impressed his fellow competitors so much that they voted him the Competitor’s Choice Award.

Pizzaioli from Los Angeles to New York swarmed to Master Pizza in Medina, OH. to craft amazing pizzas and compete for a coveted spot on the Groupon U.S. Pizza Team and the grand prize of a trip to the World Pizza Championship in April 2016 in Parma, Italy.

Lenny Rago’s winning “Burratina” was made with fennel sausage, fresh ground pepperoni-flavored sausage, Sorrento Provolone cheese, Burrata cheese, shaved Parmesan cheese, and topped with fresh basil and olive oil.

In addition to the Rago brothers and Giordano, competitors were: Dave Sommers (Mad Mushroom, Indiana); Anthony Quagliata (Alfredo’s At The Inn, Ohio); Haider Ali (786 Degrees, California); Mike Russo (Romeo’s Pizza, Ohio); Jeremy Corbin (Sloopy’s Sports Cafe, Ohio); Shawn Dugan (Shorty’s Pizzeria, West Virginia); Gino Rago (Panino’s Pizzeria, Illinois); Will Shaw (Pizza BoGo, Ohio); Frank Baird (Franco’s Pizza, Ohio); Jason Hague (Bada Bing! Pizzeria,Ohio); Bradley Johnson (Mellow Mushroom, Tennessee); Leonardo Rago (Via Pizzeria 1-2-3, Illinois); Emily Dugan (Culinary Creativity & Design, West Virginia); Rick Wheeler (Mad Mushroom, Indiana); and Matt King (Forno Wood Fired Pizzeria, Ohio).

From left to right: Jason Samosky, Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria, Valley City, OH.; Leonardo Giordano, Mona Lisa Pizza, Staten Island, NY. (3rd); Lenny Rago, Via Pizzeria 1-2-3, Chicago, IL. (1st); Gino Rago, Panino’s Pizza, Chicago, IL. (2nd); Michael LaMarca, Master Pizza, Medina, OH.

The event was organized by Groupon U.S. Pizza Team members Michael P. LaMarca, owner of Master Pizza (www.masterpizza.com), and Jason Samosky, owner of Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria (www.samoskyspizza.com). Sponsors were US. Foods, Sysco Foods and Holiday Sausage.

The World Pizza Championships attracts hundreds of pizza chefs from more than 30 countries every year. They compete in a range of categories, including: classic pizza, pizza in the pan, pizza on the peel, Neapolitan, gluten-free, pizza-for-two (made by two chefs), individual freestyle acrobatics, largest dough stretch and fastest pie maker. The 2015 Groupon U.S. Pizza Team was comprised of four acrobatic competitors and 16 culinary competitors.




About the Author

Brian Hernandez

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