Last month I had the incredible opportunity to judge at the largest culinary pizza competition in the USA. The International Pizza Expo has been an annual event in Las Vegas for the past 27 years and it’s seriously wall-to-wall pizza insanity. The competition categories change every year as different styles evolve, but this year I was asked to judge preliminary rounds and finals for both the traditional and non-traditional categories. The five pizzas I’m about to show you are the least traditional of the non-traditional round.
This Japanese pizza started with a rice flour dough topped with dried seaweed, sliced mochi cakes, soy sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, corn, dried-fermented-smoked tuna flakes and a blend of mozzarella and gouda. That’s pretty dang non-traditional! It was actually one of my favorites in the category but execution in the final round wasn’t so hot.
I first saw this pie at a competition in Orlando a few years back and even though I have never personally judged it, Dave Smith III from Smith’s Pizza Palace Plus in Emporium, PA definitely deserves points for pizza insanity. The thing looks like a ninja star! Dave snips the crust and gives the dough skin a quick toss to create these little spikes. Truly amazing.
I have no idea who made this one but it’s designed to commemorate the attack on Lawrence Kansas in 1863. Yes, that’s a pepperoni house and a pepperoni bridge and a pepperoni farm. The meat building on the left was set on fire to illustrate the massacre. Here’s a video if you want to see it in action!
You might need to strap on your 3D glasses for this one to get the full effect of freeze-dried sliced prosciutto wheels and melon balls. The white strings were described to the judges as “mozzarella linguine,” which just means the strands are thin like linguine. That dark goo is 12 year balsamic jam. I have no recollection of how it tasted.
Finally, the tropical “Tequila Sunrise” pie from Goodfellas in Staten Island. That’s right, these guys came from New York, home of contemporary pizza tradition, and made the least traditional of all entries. It has mango, limes, tequila, cilantro — plus the crowning garnish of a pineapple top. I was really skeptical when I saw this one come out but I have to say it really delivered on its promise. This was the winning pie, scoring $10,000 for Goodfellas Pizza on Hylan Blvd in Staten Island.