There are a few things that we take pretty seriously here in New Jersey.

Whether or not Central Jersey actually exists (it doesn't).

Sports teams (go Phillies!).

Pumping gas.

Pork roll.

And certainly pizza.

Sam's Pizza on the boardwalk in Wildwood NJ - Photo: Chris Coleman
Sam's Pizza on the boardwalk in Wildwood NJ - Photo: Chris Coleman
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I mean, ask anyone down the shore what the best boardwalk pizza is and there's a decent chance that a fistfight will break out.

Manco and Manco on the Ocean City Boardwalk - Photo: Chris Coleman
Manco and Manco on the Ocean City Boardwalk - Photo: Chris Coleman
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But what if the best pizza in New Jersey wasn't from New Jersey?

3 Brothers in Seaside Heights NJ - Photo: Google Maps
3 Brothers in Seaside Heights NJ - Photo: Google Maps
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That's exactly the situation that unfolded at the Pizza and Pasta Northeast Expo in Atlantic City earlier this month.

This expo is just that -- a giant trade show for people that live and work in the pizza and pasta industries (I'm envious). And along with countless exhibits and seminars are all types of competitions.

We're talking cage matches (not quite) that determine the young pizza maker of the year, plus the world calzone championship, the Northeast Pasta Showdown, and the Best of the Northeast Pizza competition.

The Best of the Northeast Pizza brawl is pretty fierce. It's limited to 40 competitors in the traditional division, 20 competitors in the non-traditional division, and 25 in the Neapolitan division (and you thought pizza was pizza).

Competitors will battle head-to-head, bringing their best recipes and presenting their finished signature pizza to a panel of prestigious judges in the Traditional, Non-Traditional, and Neapolitan divisions.

The rules are pretty simple. Competitors must bring their own dough and ingredients and assemble their pizza in front of the audience.

Big, shiny trophies and $1,500 are up for grabs. Not to mention massive bragging rights.

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And after all was said and done, the best pizza in the northeast went to a restaurant in Massachusetts.

James "Jimmy" Casapizziolo, a first-time competitor, from Casa Pizza in Ludlow, MA, brought home first prize.

Casa Pizza in Ludlow, MA, is home to the best pizza in the northeast - Photo: Google Maps
Casa Pizza in Ludlow, MA, is home to the best pizza in the northeast - Photo: Google Maps
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Yes, the best pizza that was in New Jersey is a 275-mile drive from Atlantic City.

But if you go there, you won't find the best pizza in the northeast on their menu. That's because it's made with, "a special sauce, caramelized onions, fresh-chopped garlic and a basil drizzle that tops a super-thin, New Haven-style crust," according to masslive.com.

And it runs about $40.

Now, $40 sounds like a lot but consider that a plain pizza from Manco & Manco in Ocean City runs almost $26, so that's not too bad.

The folks with the Pizza Expo posted the results on their Facebook page, but unfortunately, they don't mention where any of the participants are from or what restaurants they represent, so I can't even guess if there were chefs from the Garden State in the running.

Side note: it's interesting to see that it appears that two competitors were disqualified. I can only imagine why.

So, congratulations to everyone at Casa Pizza up in Massachusetts. While you earned the trophy and all of the fame that goes with it, all you need to do now is earn the props of all nine million people in New Jersey who think the best pizza on the planet is in their backyards.

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