Pizza parlors in Eagle County
October is officially National Pizza Month, but stop by any local pizzeria and there’s another story being told.”It’s a mad, mad March,” said Brian “Hutch” Hutchinson, partner in the three Eagle County Pazzo’s pizzerias. On any given day Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza, roughly 350 slices per second. But during the NCAA tournament, the numbers generally rise 15 percent for the Final Four games, and actually double for the final face-off. Longer shot clock or no, by the time the tourney is over fans will have consumed 13 million slices of pepperoni and enough ‘za to fill 926,000 basketball courts. As Ohio State squares off against Georgetown, and UCLA takes on Florida State, employees of national chain Papa John’s expect their busiest day of the year, based on last year’s numbers. Though plenty of pizza joints will be airing the games, people tend to call in their orders and scamper back to their sets, pizza box in one hand and a 12-pack in the other. “We do a lot of to-gos this time of year,” said Mark Esteppe, owner of Marko’s Pizzeria in Edwards. Sometimes to-go orders account for 50 percent of his nightly business. The Supreme, baked on the bricks in a pizza oven, is his most popular pie for the sports crowd.
“It’s a big hit because you cover all the food groups,” he said. “You’ve got your meat, your dairy, your bread and your veggies in every bite. Delicious.”Vendetta’s in Vail Village does plenty of pickup business, but the large-screen TVs scattered throughout the restaurant are conducive to in-house activity.”You can always tell when something’s happening or it’s getting close because of the ‘oooohs’ and ‘ahhhhhhs’ in the bar,” said Dave Chapin, a partner in the restaurant and pizza bar. He says there are two types of pizza eaters: the meat set and the veggie set. Sports fans? They’re meat. Which means they gravitate toward the Snow Pig, which includes Canadian bacon, sausage and pepperoni.According to market research group Packaged Facts, Americans eat 23 pounds of pizza a year. Those with a hankering for ZaccaZa’s deep-dish pie probably eat more than that.
“We probably get the average up a little,” said Jim Lay, partner in the Avon restaurant. The Avon restaurant’s Chicago-style ‘za is many things, but it ain’t light. The dense olive-oil crust is layered with cheese, meat and sauce with a heavy hand and then baked in a piping hot oven. Lift enough of them, and you’ll develop muscles. They also sell Napolitano-style pie, with a thin crust. Pepperoni and sausage are their most popular toppings.Lay’s a Gator man.”It’ll be Florida for the repeat,” he said. “There will be no redemption for Ohio.” Over at Marko’s, Israel Ruiz agrees.
“Florida’s going to pull through,” he said. “It’ll be a repeat from football.”Over at Vendetta’s, Chapin is voting for the West Coast.”I’d like to see UCLA win,” he said. And so would Hutch from Pazzo’s.”UCLA’s going to take it,” he said. “They’ll be playing Georgetown. That’s my bracket. Florida’s going to be pretty upset.”Hutch has been throwing pies for a quarter of a century; he still eats them. Though he and his staff have made all kinds of topping combinations, there’s one order that always stands out: anchovies and pineapple. But for the most part, the restaurant’s two best-sellers are the Azteca, with pepperoni, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos and tomatoes; and the Corfu, with feta, fresh basil, tomatoes, olives and onions.But no matter what kind of pizza you’re looking for, plan ahead. That way you won’t miss a single minute of the games while you’re waiting for your dinner. And nobody wants to cheer on an empty stomach.