“The Wolf” leads the pack at the 2017 West Coast Pizza Trials!

Ali Haider of 786°, Jason Samosky of Samosky’s Homestlye Pizzeria, and Michael Stevens of Palo Mesa Pizza

Oceanside, CA, August 8, 2017 — Pizza talent from across the United

1st Place West Coast Pizza Trials Michael Athanasopoulos, The Lamb & The Wolf, Sacramento, CA.

States competed at the 2017 U.S. Pizza Team West Coast Pizza Trials, hosted by Dominic’s Italian Restaurant on August 8, 2017. 20 pizzaioli vied for the top prize of a trip to Parma, Italy to compete in the World Pizza Championship in April 2018.


Michael “The Wolf” Athanasopoulos of the Lamb & the Wolf, from the greater Sacramento area, went home as a champion, with a spot to compete in Italy. The Wolf also

2nd Place West Coast Pizza Trials Michael LaMarca, Master Pizza, Cleveland, OH.

won one of the two Food Network Golden Tickets to compete in the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, AL.


Limited ingredients and cooking methods kept all the competitors thinking outside the box on preparation and execution. The Wolf out baked the competition with his sausage and pepper pie. Starting with a spicy tomato marmalade base, the pie was topped with green and red peppers sautéed in lemon olive oil. Three types of sausage, a mild, spicy and red wine/rosemary blend from Devanco Foods rounded out the flavors. All finished with a red pepper marmalade and cooked in a wood fired oven at 650°.

  Second place went to U.S Pizza Team (USPT) veteran Michael LaMarca of Master Pizza in Cleveland, OH. with his “Detroit Rock City” pizza.  This Detroit style pizza had a pillowy crust with the distinct crusty caramelization

of the cheese around the edges. It was topped with a 50/50 blend of mozz and provolone cheese and a house made red sauce featuring “tom

3rd Place West Coast Pizza Trials Vincent Rotolo, Evel Pie, Las Vegas, NV.

ato velvet”, the fleshy skin of the tomato showcasing all the texture, flavor and eye appeal. The Detro

Two Additional prizes for first place in the Traditional West Coast Pizza Trials. A golden ticket for entry in the Food Network’s World Food Championships and an engraved butcher knife from Gunter Wilhelm.

it Rock City was finished off with a dusting of Pecorino Romano cheese after the bake.


Bringing in third place was Vincent Rotolo of Evel Pie in Las Vegas, with his ”Mushroom and Onion 9.0” pie. Featuring 9 types of mushrooms such as smoked enoki and nameko mushrooms, grilled portobellos, and roasted maitake, shiitake, chanterelle, bunashimeji, baby king oyster and blue foot mushrooms. Followed by cheese blends consisting of 36 month aged Parmesan, Grande 50/50 mozz blend, shaved truffle caciocavallo, smoked scamorza, fresh smoked mozz and Grand Cru Pecorino with black truffle (used after bake). The pie also included several different onion types including vidalia onions, pearl onions, chopped and caramelized red onions, and deep-fried shallots.

The West Coast Trials also offered an Iron Chef event voted by the public. This event let each of the competitors bring their best pie to the table while incorporating a secret ingredient, Black Cherries sponsored by Amarena Toschi Cherries. The People’s Choice  and second Golden Ticket went to Leah Scurto of Pizza My Heart in the San Francisco Bay area. She created a “Lemon Pie Pizza” using a cream sauce, sliced lemons and Toschi black cherries,  that resembled a lemon meringue pie.

The World Food Championships is to be held in Orange Beach, AL., November 8-14, 2017.The Golden Tickets are courtesy of the Food Network Judge Jodi Taffel, also known as “The Bacon Babe.” Both winners were also awarded engraved butcher knives sponsored by Gunter Wilhelm.

The 2017 West Coast Pizza Trials are sponsored by Regal Wine Company, Gunter Wilhelm, Young’s Market Company, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Mission Brewery, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Garage Brewing, Red Oven Artisanal Pizza and Pasta, Wine Warehouse, Jacmar Foodservice Distribution and Dominic’s Italian Restaurant.

Michael Palmeri of Naked City Pizza in Las Vegas presents his pie, under the watchful eye of Pizza TV.
Justin Burlingame of Red Oven Pizza was kind enough to lend his oven services, as well as compete in both events. In his down time he was making pizzas free of charge for the hungry public
Steve Green (PMQ Pizza Magazine Publisher), Gino Rago (owner of Panino’s Pizza, Chicago, IL.), Dan Uccello (newest Premiere USPT member, Owner of Flo’s Pizzeria, Grand Rapids, MI.)
Leah Scurto’s first place Iron Chef entry, “Lemon Pizza Pie” (featuring Toschi Black Cherries in Sauce). Cream sauce, with sliced lemons and toschi Black cherries and sauce on top, dusted in powdered sugar.
Event Winners: Iron Chef People’s Choice – Leah Scurto, Pizza My Heart, Los Gatos, CA. , West Coast Pizza Trials Traditional Event, Michael “The Wolf” Athanasopolous, The Lamb & The Wolf, Sacramento, CA.
Gino Rago’s beautiful Chicago pie, cooked in a cast iron skillet in the oven and featuring homemade sausage and red sauce.

If you would like more information about this event or the U.S. Pizza Team, contact Brian Hernandez at 662-234-5481 x 129, brian@pmq.com.


Brian Hernandez

Brian Hernandez