Here are a few things to know about the Pizza Bowl held at Redd’s in the Meadowlands for the fourth year running:
Firstly – let’s just get this out of the way – Pizza Bowl newcomer (and the Meadowlands Chamber’s own) Vinnie’s Mootz, 356 Valley Brook Ave., Lyndhurst, gobbled up the competition. Taking the top prize for best slice at the annual statewide Tunnels to Towers Foundation (T2T) fundraising contest, the longtime Meadowlands mozzarella maker is a recent restauranteur in the township.
Vincent Morelli’s thin, crisp grandma pie topped with fresh tomatoes and his signature fresh mutz got nothing but yums and ahs from the judges.
“Vinnie’s slice was a standout, just fantastic,” said Marianne Axon, a VIP Judge who is the Event Manager at the Meadowlands Chamber. “Pizza Bowl IV in the Meadowlands is amazing and everyone who entered is a winner.”
And while pizza is the main game at Pizza Bowl – meatballs are very much in play.
For the third year running, Johnny Speciale of PizzAmore Italian Kitchen, 323 Broad St., Carlstadt, took the top prize for best balls, with a perfect meat to breadcrumbs ratio, plus a “just amazing sauce,” the judges said.
Speciale’s sauce is light, homemade with a mix of plum and crushed tomatoes.
Hosted by Guy Madsen and his Jersey Pizza Joints (JPJ), a 100K Facebook community, this is the fourth year for Pizza Bowl, a charity event. Meadowland’s area lifer Madsen started JPJ during the pandemic, which led to the first event at Redd’s Bar & Restaurant in Carlstadt, where it’s been held every year.
It’s About the Dough — For a 9/11 Charity
Madsen’s goal hasn’t wavered since he launched the always-sold-out statewide pizza extravaganza – to boost mom-and-pop pizza shops across N.J. while raising funds for the 9/11 T2T nonprofit.
From VIP judges to patrons at large, everyone at Redd’s said the cause is what brings them back every year – though it is absolutely a two-fer – fun with a purpose built in. But T2T is near and dear to every attendee’s heart. Most people in the tristate area know someone directly or indirectly who were killed or died on 9/11 or because of 9/11.
“First of all, I’m here because of the cause. It’s a great cause, and a really important one I’m glad to support every year,” said VIP Celebrity Judge actor Joseph D’Onofrio, known for playing young Tommy DeVito in the Goodfellas (1990). D’Onofrio has also appeared in A Bronx Tale, Gravesend, and other films.
It’s Also About The Guy
Madsen, a Rutherford native who lives in Clifton, is The Guy and The Reason anyone descends on Redd’s to eat and judge pizza and meatballs every year each weekend before the Super Bowl. Without Madsen, there is no JPJ, no Pizza Bowl, and no T2T fundraiser at Redd’s, which this year raised close to $12K, and across the years over $40K.
“Second of all,” D’Onofrio said of his reason for coming back every year, “it’s because of Guy Madsen. He’s a great guy and he does a first class event that gets better every year. Plus it’s pizza. I love pizza.”
D’Onofrio is just one among many celebrity guests to sing Madsen’s praises, not just for running the event year after year, but for doing it with great pizza and meatballs and at a fantastic venue like Redd’s.
Madsen seems to know everyone who is anyone and packs the house every year with celebrities, athletes, media, musicians, and other recognizable faces from the tristate area.
They Literally Did Sing
Jim Babjak and Dennis Diken from The Smithereens were VIP Celebrity Judges and they did sing for everyone! As did the rest of The Smithereens, although they were not set to perform. But Pizza Bowl IV is a mighty big crowd – and The Smithereens took the stage much to the crowd’s delight.
Also at the mic were Aloha Monkey Band with Andrew Tummino, DJ Ralph Tunis, and Mark Byrnes. There were also bag pipes from and other tunes.
An IT guy by trade, Madsen is no stranger to the local restaurant business in the Garden State, having operated several eateries with his family in North Jersey and down the shore.
Without the many sponsors supporting Pizza Bowl, it simply would not happen, and Madsen, who aside from JPT, runs Jersey Sandwich Joints and Jersey Burger Joints, all popular Facebook groups.
Billy Pompeo, owner of Annabellas House of Mozzarella, in Carlstadt, is a third year Pizza Bowl sponsor and made fresh mutz onsite. Ferraro Foods was a top sponsor providing food, as was Redd’s, Natoli’s Italian Deli in Secaucus, Angelos Finest NYC Style Pizza, Pizza Bites (formally IL Forno) Secaucus, and Love Farms.