Bigger slice gets served for third year

The Warren Rotary fundraiser, held at the St. Demetrios Community Center in Warren its first two years, moves to the Metroplex Expo Center in Liberty for its third edition on Sunday.

“It’s gotten to the point now it was time to move it to a larger venue,” event chair Rob Berk said. “It was very, very crowded last year. It’s time to take it to new heights.”

The size of the room isn’t the only thing that’s bigger. After featuring 10 to 12 businesses competing for best cheese pizza, best specialty pizza and people’s choice in the past, this year’s event will feature 19 pizza makers from the Mahoning Valley.

“We’ve been fortunate to get a lot of new guys this year,” Berk said. “Moving the location to the Metroplex made a difference. I’ve been trying to get Uptown and Wedgewood since we started, and I was shocked both said count us in this year.”

This year’s competitors are Amen Corner, Girard; Brothers Restaurant, Vienna; Buena Vista Cafe, Warren; Melillo’s Station Grille, Lowellville; Russo’s, Mineral Ridge; St. Anthony’s Brier Hill, Youngstown; Sunrise Inn, Warren; and Tiger Den, Newton Falls, as well as local / regional chains Belleria, Cocca’s, Ianazone’s, Pizza Joe’s, Primanti Bros., Uptown and Wedgewood, and national chains Marco’s, Little Caesar’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Attendees will get to vote in the people’s choice category. Best cheese pizza and best specialty pizza will be chosen by a panel of judges including Warren native and “The Voice” competitor Dennis Drummond, Youngstown native and former lightweight boxing champion Ray Mancini, former Cleveland Browns cornerback Hanford Dixon, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and local media personalities.

The beer lineup available will spotlight Ohio brewers such as Modern Methods in Warren, Birdfish in Columbiana, Great Lakes in Cleveland, Rhinegeist in Cincinnati and Ohio in Akron. And for those looking for something sweet after the savory pizza, Berk said The Mocha House will have desserts for sale.

Entertainment will be provided by Bo Wagner and his 13-piece orchestra performing the songs of Frank Sinatra.

“When you walk into the venue, it will feel like you’re walking into Caesar’s Palace,” Berk said. “This guy is terrific.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit Trumbull Mobile Meals, Warren Family Mission, Salvation Army of Warren, the Rotary Foundation and Courthouse Square Fountain Restoration Project.