July 23, 2008

Pizza Places Contend in TL Poll

By Joe Korba, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Jul. 23--The challenge to be named the best pizza in the area is heating up this summer. The Times Leader challenged local pizza joints to battle it out on the Internet, launching an online poll for best pizza in the area about two weeks ago.

The poll was the idea of The Times Leader's digital sales specialist, Erica Calvert. Fourteen restaurants signed up to participate.

John Baldino, The Times Leader's vice president of digital and interactive media, said the contest is good for the pizzerias. "It's a neat opportunity to highlight local businesses," Baldino said. "It's fun, interactive and cheap advertising."

On Tuesday afternoon, Grotto Pizza, which has three area locations, had a strong lead, with 60 percent of nearly 8,000 votes cast. Sabatini's Pizza in Exeter was the next-closest vote-getter with 18 percent of the vote. According to its Web site, Sabatini's has been serving crispy, thin-crust pizza made with natural ingredients using the same recipe for more than 50 years.

Lynda Sabatini attributes the eatery's standing in the pizza war to simple word-of-mouth. "Our customers are aware of the contest; we have a poster in the restaurant advertising the Web site," Sabatini said.

Bob Petro, general manager of Grotto Pizza near the Wyoming Valley Mall, said his promotional efforts so far have been modest.

"We just tell our customers and have an ad on the counter," Petro said. Grotto is relying on loyal customers, according to Petro. "Grotto Pizza has been around since 1953, it's more of a tradition than other places."

Some of the other contenders are using different means to get votes for their pies. The Fort cafe & Pizza in Forty Fort has loyal customers supporting their pizza on the social networking site Facebook.

The contest will run until the end of August; to vote, visit The Times Leader's Web site at www.timesleader.com and look for the link.


To see more of The Times Leader, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesleader.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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