PITTSTON CITY — At the Pittston Tomato Festival, it doesn’t matter if the pen is mightier than the sword — during festival weekend, neither is a match for the ladle.
Area restaurants will once again make the Pittston Tomato Festival their battlefield during the annual Sauce Wars competition. From Thursday, Aug. 17 until winners are announced Sunday, Aug. 20, festival attendees can pay $2 to sample seven different tomato-based sauces and vote for their favorite. Winners receive bragging rights over restaurants from across the Wyoming Valley.
This year’s skirmish will see four new participants enter the fray. Arcaro & Genell (Old Forge), Andy Perugino Restaurant (Luzerne), PAZZO (Pittston) and AuRants (Duryea) join grizzled veterans Marianacci’s Restaurant (Wyoming), 2015 winner Grico’s (Exeter) and two-time champion CrisNics (Wilkes-Barre).
CrisNics Owner Mark Flaherty had some saucy comments for the competition.
“We are currently in Ireland acquiring our special ingredients to make our award-winning sauce, and, with the luck of the Irish, we will win for the third time,” Flaherty said.
Each $2 donation made at the Sauce Wars booth benefits the Greater Pittston Historical Society.
“It’s great advertising our sauce at the Pittston Tomato Fest and it’s always good to help out another charity,” Flaherty said.
Sauce Wars Chair Kristina McHale said the booth will also sell shirts, host a raffle and sell copies of the recently-aired WVIA-TV documentary “Our Town: Pittston.” What McHale wouldn’t say is which sauce she thinks will come out on top after the dust settles.
“They’re all favorites,” McHale said. “They’re wonderful restaurants from throughout the valley and it’s going to be a close competition. You can’t really say.”
McHale could say why she’s passionate about Sauce Wars.
“Sauce Wars is important to the festival because it’s a way for the festival to give back to the community and the Greater Pittston Historical Society is preserving the history, so that’s why it’s become a tradition,” McHale said.