Wilson County’s pizzerias pulled out their big pans for the inaugural Lebanon Democrat Pizza Bowl I.
The Pizza Bowl pitted pizzerias from throughout the county against one another in an eight-category taste test, as well as in a Facebook poll allowing residents to vote for their overall favorites.
“Social media was blowing up with it,” said Katie Smith, co-owner of Nona Lisa Pizzeria in Watertown.
In all, 644 votes were cast on The Democrat’s Facebook page during the nearly weeklong competition.
Painturo’s took the top in the People’s Choice with 193 votes, while Nona Lisa came out in second place with 155 votes. David’s Pizza came in third with 149 votes.
All the top three promoted the poll on their Facebook pages, but Teri Chastain, co-owner of David’s Pizza, said some of her customers commented voting was slightly complicated because the poll was split into two lists.
Smith was pleased with the commentary she saw on Facebook, and with the number of votes Nona Lisa received.
“Lebanon is about 16 times the size of Watertown, so if we multiplied all our votes by 16, I think our turnout is pretty amazing,” said Smith.
She said the overall experience was positive.
“It was great for all of the pizza places, especially the locals who I think got some attention and appreciation for what we’re doing,” said Smith. “I’m excited, because I think people on the other end of the county who might not ever have thought about what was going on in Watertown now have an opportunity to realize, ‘hey, if we’re going to get food out there, maybe we’d better go and check it out.’”
She also said many of her customers who commented on Facebook were detailed about what they liked about the restaurant.
“When you see your friend and ask them to go out to lunch, you’re not usually evaluating the restaurant at that level,” said Smith.
The Democrat’s staff and guest judge, Rotary Club president Clark Boyd, also offered in-depth evaluations by taste-testing each restaurant’s entry and picking the top pizzeria in eight separate categories, including overall winner.
David’s Pizza took top honors as overall winner, as well as best thin crust pizza and tying as best toppings/theme.
Ziggy’s also did well, taking best gourmet/most unique and tying with Painturo’s for overall presentation and Ci Ci’s and David’s for best toppings/theme.
Pizza Hut took best pan, while Papa John’s and NY NY Pizza tied for best crust.
Several participants said they would definitely participate again.
“I thought [Pizza Bowl I] was really positively competitive and really showed the best of what Wilson County has to offer,” said Smith.