PITTSTON — 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. 16 until winners are announced Sunday, Aug. 19, festival attendees will be able to 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.
Each $2 donation made at the Sauce Wars booth benefits the Greater Pittston Historical Society and the Greater Pittston Cultural Coalition.
Sauce Wars chairperson Kristina McHale said shirts, host a raffle and sell copies of the recently-aired WVIA-TV documentary “Our Town: Pittston” will also be sold at the Tomato Festival building. What McHale wouldn’t say is which sauce she thinks will come out on top after the dust settles.
This year’s skirmish will see participants such as Andy Perguino’s (Luzerne), Anthony’s (Old Forge), Arcaro & Genell (Old Forge), Betelli’s Villa (Wilkes-Barre), Cafe Italia (Pittston) and last year’s champion PAZZO 315 (Pittston Township).
Sam Agolino, owner of PAZZO 315, said it was his first time competing in Sauce Wars last year.
“You’re humbled,” he said of his victory. “It’s nice. You cook nice food and people appreciate it.”
Agolino said he’s not changing his sauce recipe for this year, but looks forward to defending his title.
“Hopefully, I use the best ingredients available and defend my title,” he said. “Hopefully, people will come out and vote again and appreciate what we do.”
New to the Sauce Wars this year is Anthony’s and owner Phylis Mischello said they were approached to join the competition this year and thought ‘sure, why not?’
“Everybodsy’s sauce is different and it’s going to be fun,” she said.
She said competition brings out the best and it’ll help her know where her sauce stands compared to others.
“I like to compete and see what people think about the sauces and get their reaciton, and see where you stand with the people” Mischello said. “Will we know where we stand? I don’t know. I’ve never been involved with it. It’s exciting.”
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