Attended my first Pizza Expo last year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Why would a wine and spirits writer attend a pizza show? Well, considering that all that wonderful cheesy crusty meat-lovers-and-more pizza HAS to be paired with wine or spirits, and I’m there. We got to try some amazing new products, new toppings and new sides. The row of pizza ovens alone made your mouth water! Couldn’t wait to see what the 2022 event had to offer. This was my social media post (photos by Ed Bushman here) with just a sample of what we tried:
Are two conventions in two days too much? Not for us! Yesterday it was the International Pizza Expo where besides pizza, we sampled all of the things that go with pizza including Ken’s Salad Dressings, Grappa and American Whiskey from Gia Distillery, Bel Evo Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Rians La Crema Brûlée and Sicilian Olives from Atalanta Corporation, Melinda’s Hot Sauce, Red Star Yeast, Piancone Epicureo Balsamic Vinegar, A’Siciliana Limonata and Aranciata, La Banderita Tortillas, the wine bar at the Stanislaus booth, Piknik Althena Dolmades, Caputo Cheese, BelGioioso Cheese, Hillshire Farm Pork Chorizo, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Villa Dolce Gelato Italiano, Liokareas Cold-Fused Olive Oils, Stella’s Gourmet pizza cookies, Ambrosia bar fruits, Sabatino Tartufi Truffles…
Some of the details not mentioned above included:
Ken’s salad dressings are always amazing, this time I inhaled their Balsamic Vinegar dressing that not only works on a salad but also is a great dipping sauce for pizza, fish, chicken and steak.
Having Grappa at the end of a night of pizza and wine is one of my favorite things, so having a yummy Grappa from Moscato grapes by Gia Distillery was just perfect.
Bel Evo Olive Oil, tasted with a little bread, was mouth-watering. I could easily imagine it on a plate with some Piancone Epicureo Balsamic Vinegar for the perfect side dish with any dinner, pizza included.
The Vanilla Bourbon Crema Brûlée and Sicilian Olives from Atalanta Corporation were also yummy. The olives before dinner, or in a Martini with dinner, and that Crema Brûlée – imported from France – is for after dinner, if you have any room left in your tummy.
Melinda’s Craft Pepper Sauces makes more than one kind of hot sauce, check them out for your pals that need hot sauce on – or nearby – their pizza!
A’Siciliana Limonata and (blood oranges from Sicily) Aranciata is a lesser-known sparkling fruit soda company from Italy, and just as good as any other you may have tried. Simply perfect for when you don’t need wine or spirits to enjoy your pizza!
The La Banderita Tortillas served at the Expo were huge wraps for a burrito or a flat bread type of pizza.
I regret not trying the tomatoes from Stanislaus, “THE REAL ITALIAN TOMATO COMPANY” but I did appreciate sitting in their large booth, tasting Coppola wine and being serenaded by their guitarist.
I simply adore stuffed grape leaves and would love to see this offered more frequently at Italian restaurants as a side. The great tasting ones from Piknik Althena were a great find at the Expo.
Served with flavored olive oil, Caputo Cheeses were a first for me. Yummy stuff that deserves attention on or off your pizza.
Finding large display cases of BelGioioso “Italian cheese made in the USA” made my day! Why? My Italian mama, who passed away this year, was a huge fan of their sharp Provolone. So, of course, I had to have a slice…or two. Their cheeses are easily found in the deli section of most supermarkets.
Hillshire Farm had a huge booth, making soft tacos with all different kinds of their meats. The Pork Chorizo was amazing, and I had no clue that they even made it, and I will definitely look for that on my next pizza!
I was looking for the Blue Bunny Ice Cream booth from the moment I got to the Expo. They serve up a small crunchy topping cone and a layered sundae. Always delicious. This time one of the staffers at the Stanislaus booth saw me with my cone, called me over, and told me to try it with their olive oil. It was life changing. Both should be offered in a pizza restaurant IMHO!
How about a salted caramel ice cream sandwich from Villa Dolce Gelato Italiano to cleanse your palate after that pizza pie you had for dinner? Yes please! Gelato is the ticket!
Do Greek olive oils, made from Greek Kalamata olives of course, with infusions like basil, sage or garlic sound good to you? Trying Liokareas Cold-Fused Olive Oils without any bread or vinegar…and they were really different. Look for these oils and buy them!
If you love shaved truffles on pizza or pasta look for Sabatino Tartufi Truffles that come in different flavors for that perfect taste you are looking for.
You know those big cookies some restaurants serve in the round tin, topped with ice cream? The brand Stella’s Gourmet Pizza Cookies is the real deal, moist and full of flavor. And you know what else I’m going say…another perfect pizza finisher after pizza!
Personal note: No actual pizza mentioned above? I sampled a lot of pizza made with different types of cheeses, sauces, dough and toppings, and I must say that if you have any allergies, or a need to only eat vegan or vegetable-made cheeses, toppings or crusts, pizzerias have many options for you these days.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.