LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — If your NCAA bracket is busted, there’s another bracket out there with more rivalries than you’ll find in college basketball.
This bracket pits many of our area’s best pizza shops against each other. It’s called NEPA Pizza Madness.
If you’re from northeastern Pennsylvania, chances are you have a favorite spot for pizza. There are plenty of them.
So every March, Jim Mirabelli puts our pizza madness to the test with an NCAA style bracket. Mirabelli runs a pizza-centered blog called NEPA Pizza Review.
The “saucy sixteen” was just selected Monday night.
“It’s intentionally cheesy, and then we have the cheesy eight, and the floury four,” said Mirabelli.
Mirabelli starts with 64 pizza shops across several counties. Fans of each can vote online at Brackify.com, where NEPA Pizza Madness just surpassed the actual NCAA basketball tournament by number of votes cast.
“Just a small little postage stamp in Pennsylvania, and I really think we need to be put on the map. And that’s just really the focus of NEPA Pizza Review is to bring exposure to these little places and put them out there,” Mirabelli said.
Brunetti’s Pizza in Scranton finished second last year and knows the marketing benefits first hand. The tournament has gotten them thousands more followers on Facebook.
“I get comments from people who grew up going to Brunetti’s that live in Colorado, live in California. ‘We’re voting. We love the pictures,'” said owner Mike Brunetti.
Many of the shop’s posts soliciting votes include Brunetti’s founder, Ann Brunetti, who opened the shop with her late husband 60 years ago.
“I can’t believe the people that supported us. I didn’t realize how much I was loved,” Brunetti said.
DaVinci Pizza in downtown Scranton advanced to the “saucy sixteen.” Owner Frank Mazzone says the bracket is a celebration of our area’s great pizza.
“Good competition brings out the best in you,” he said.
It is, after all, a competition. You can cast your vote here from now until April 16th when a new pizza champion will be crowned.
*An earlier version of this story referred to Brunetti’s as defending champs. The 2017 winner was Mifflin Pizza of Mifflinville.