There are pub crawls and then there are pizza crawls. And let me tell you, the latter happens to be a lot more memorable (and delicious). A few weeks ago, I stuffed my face with pizza. Lots of pizza. A nearly unimaginable amount of pizza! All for the sake of local adventure. And, well, because… pizza.
This pizza crawl around our town’s pizzerias was inspired by some pretty cool dudes over at the Pizza Party Podcast, who organized and created the very first Feast of St. Pizza in New York. The idea was simple. Choose a small group of devoted pizza fanatics, ten pizzerias and a date to embark on possibly the most glutenous (did I just make that up?) day of their lives. The only rules? Document the journey and eat a minimum of one slice at each place. So what would any small town adventurer do when approached about doing a similar Feast in our area? That’s right. Do your own version! Say hello to The Feast of St. Pizza: Lebanon Edition!
When I told co-workers and friends about our pilgrimage around our area’s pizzerias, I was faced with two drastically different responses. One goes along the lines of “What?! That’s awesome, I want to do that.” And two goes a little something like “So which place had the best slice?” Well, to both responses, I say this. One: DO IT. And two: I discovered a lot about my local area’s pizza places, and it’s hard to come to one definitive ‘winner.’
Forewarning, if you are on a diet I apologize for the amount of deliciousness that is to follow. Jk, sorry not sorry…
Our organizer and fearless leader of The Feast of St. Pizza: Lebanon Edition was none other than my very dear bloggy friend Sara Cornelius, who happens to be the creator of the cutest little illustrated food blog, Cake Over Steak (be sure to check out her coverage of our pizza pilgrimage over there too)! Sara introduced this idea to me a few months back and it became evidently clear that, duh we have to do it, and sweeeeet our immediate group of friends were down to nom with us. Because what true friends wouldn’t be? Am I right?
Being a true Lebanonian born and bred here in the town of bologna, churches and pizzerias, Sara created a Google Map of our town’s pizza places and a rough itinerary for us to follow. Genius genius genius. The journey of our edition of Saint Pizza took about 12 hours in its entirety, including the time it took to walk between shops, snap an insane amount of Instagram pictures and take the time to digest a slice at each of the ten stops along our way. I’d say we did pretty well for ourselves!
Let’s talk about small town ruts. Let’s talk about how we all end up going to the same restaurants, bars and hang out spots. You know it’s true. It’s just human nature. It comes from the normalcy of going day to day between work and play, between friends and family, between sleep and activity. It just happens. And I can honestly say, The Feast of St. Pizza is one way to seriously get out of that small town rut.
The Feast of St. Pizza was an experience unlike anything I’d ever had before. It was without a question a damn good time. But speaking for our group of friends, I will say that I think we all gained a deeper appreciation for the area. By literally taking to the streets of our small town, all in the hopes of finding the best slice our area could offer, I think I found a renewed sense of excitement for dear old Lebanon. Why? Well, we were supporting small businesses. We were actually outside taking in all of the city’s liveliness. We were having a blast while playing an adult scavenger hunt… because sometimes just taking on a Local Adventurer job will just do that to you. By setting out to find the best pizza, I think we were also setting out to find the best in Lebanon, and the best of our own Local Adventurer side.
So if you’re finding yourself ready to find a renewed sense of curiosity and excitement for your hometown or if you just really want to stuff your face with pizza, I will say this again: DO IT.
Some tips and tidbits on organizing your own Feast of St. Pizza:
- Set a date far, far in advance. We planned ours at least two months ahead of time just to get a feel of how many people were free to participate.
- Have a plan. Organize your route, your ten stops and determine just how you’re getting there. We were lucky enough to walk between most of our pizzerias, although we did carpool the first two that were out of the downtown area.
- Keep it flexible. Our set number of participants fluctuated minimally throughout the day, but if people were unable to join us for part of the leg, that was totally fine. Keeping it loose made the journey more low key and made people more comfortable to come and go as they pleased. However, you’ll probably find most people are going to want to stick it out!
- Bring cash. All of us stopped at ATMs before our first stop and tried to get change immediately at the start. Having small bills came in handy! When it came to splitting the cost of pizzas, each couple paid for a pie at each stop. It worked out really nicely.
- Ask for the special pizza. Before ordering a plain cheese, make sure to ask your pizza guy if they’re known for a special type of pizza or for his top recommendation. Variety is the spice of life and you might just find something damn delicious.
- Call ahead if you need to. Around lunch/dinner hours we called a few places aheadof time (normally as we were near ending at our last stop) to ensure we wouldn’t have to wait too long for a pie.
- It’s okay to make a scene. We were a spectacle and we all knew it. “You guys only want one pie? For all ten of you?” Yup. As soon as a fresh pie came out, our cameras, phones were everywhere, we were standing on chairs to get an overhead look at the pizza… Yep. We were something. That might be why our local newspaper covered our pilgrimage!
- Use the hashtag #feastofstpizza. Simple but it was a great way to collect all of our Instagram snaps later down the road.
So here comes the answer you’ve all been waiting for… Where can you find Lebanon’s best pizza? Well, I’ll say this…
Without a question, Trattoria Fratelli’s brick oven pizzas are in a league all their own. It’s kind of even unfair to compare this place to the other true pizzeria/pizza shops in town. We ordered their classic Pizza Fratelli, their seasonal Pollo Parmigiano, and their pizza of the moment. Each of them were unreasonably delicious. Don’t even get me started. Bravo to them!
However, when it comes to legit “pizza shops” in Lebanon, my winner goes to… Marco’s Pizza. We ordered their classic pepperoni pizza and I’m still kind of salivating over it. The sauce to cheese ratio made it for me, plus I’m akin to their individual, crispy slices. Honorable mention? Italian Village‘s Sicilian pizza. It was a total surprise for me, as I’d never even walked into it’s doors before. I came out a huge fan. Regardless of my choices, I would say that each of the special pizzas that were placed in front of us at each stop had something special to offer for a variety of different tastes and eaters. I’ve organized this post in order of the pizza stops we stopped in, just for a true look inside our Feast. But if you’re interested in a more “foodie driven” take on The Feast of St. Pizza: Lebanon Edition, stop over to Cake Over Steak!
I can’t reiterate how awesome The Feast of St. Pizza: Lebanon Edition was. Parading around our town made for an awesome day (maybe one we’ll have to recreate each year???), we felt an excitement for our city and we discovered some of the best pizza slices in our small town. Could it get any better? If this sounds like something up you’re alley, I’ll say it again: DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. I’d venture to say most U.S. cities and small towns are plagued with a large amount of pizza shops for you to explore, plus you might be surprised to find some discoveries along your journey. And it’s an excuse to eat a ton of pizza. Pizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizzapizza. Now who wants to go for some pizza?