Best New Pizza Contest Winner: The Salumi Meatball

The Pagliacci Food Committee sifted through hundreds of promising entries (the crinkly, more-than-100-page document that was passed around smelled like minestrone soup after one judge spilled her lunch). The committee then baked and tasted the most tantalizing pies. Choosing a winner wasn’t easy—many were deserving—but there could only be one. It came down to a Beet Harissa pizza and the Salumi Meatball. Maybe it was the influence of the minestrone soup, but the Italian-inspired pizza got the most votes.

Long-time Pagliacci customer Weldon Pettway submitted the winner. The Salumi Meatball features the eponymous meatballs, pepperoncini, onions, sun-ripened tomatoes, asiago and mozzarella over our seasoned tomato sauce.

Weldon has been a Pagliacci customer since he attended the University of Washington in 1995. He says, “Pagliacci is one of the few places I go to that I’ve been going to ever since I came here.”

Explaining how he came up with the winning pizza, he said, “Meatballs are one of my favorite toppings, but Pagliacci only has them every once in a while. I wanted to reintroduce them. Normally I order the South Philly and switch out the mushrooms for sun-dried tomatoes, another of my favorite toppings, so I wanted to get that in there. And you can’t go wrong with onions.”

Congratulations, Weldon, on winning a year’s worth of free pizza. “I’m going to enjoy. I’m going to start by having a party for a few of my co-workers.”

Meatballs were a trendy item in this contest dominated by trends, including pizzas with fruit (especially cantaloupe), pizzas with kimchi and bulgogi, Southwest-inspired pizzas, and Thai-inspired pizzas.

Anyone not yet familiar with Salumi’s meatballs is in for a treat. Salumi, of course, is the beloved hole-in-the-wall creation of Armandino Batali (father of Mario; now run by Armandino’s daughter, Gina Batali and her husband, Brian D’Amato ) located in Pioneer Square. Nearly every major food magazine has celebrated Salumi’s cured meats. However, it may be the occasionally-offered meatball sandwich that inspires the longest lines (think waiting 30 minutes in the rain). The tender pork meatballs, named Leonetta’s Meatballs, feature braised, shredded pork necks and come from Nonna Batali’s recipe. Food and Wine featured them in their list of Best Meatballs in the U.S., as did Eater.

Tradition is important to Italians. It’s a key reason why Italian food is so good. Anyone who has been to Italy during July or August has seen all the closed stores and knows that summer vacation is a traditional part of life in Italy. Salumi is no different. We were forced to delay the debut of the winning pizza because, for a large part of July, Salumi shuts down for their summer vacation. How quintessentially Italian. To be sure we could get our hands on enough of their meatballs to meet our needs, we had to wait until they reopened. Perfect, really.

Salumi's production of Leonetta’s Meatballs is rolling along now and we are ready to launch the prize-winning pizza as of one of our Primo Specials. Beginning July 27th through most of August, you can order the Salumi Meatball and see for yourself why our judges were so impressed.

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Publish Date: July 26, 2017