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Pagliai’s Pizza is honored to have been selected in Cityview’s sixth annual “Ultimate Place for …” in its Ultimate Pizza Challenge. Five years ago, readers voted us one of the top pizza places out of 48 others. Competition is stronger now with 64 competitors.

Here’s what Cityview had to say:

… Still, you have to beat the best to be the best, and five years ago readers deemed Pagliai’s and Gusto tops. John and Katrina Pagliai left Lucca, Italy, in 1914 and settled in the coal mining town of Zookspur, Iowa. That is a ghost town today, but a century ago, Zookspur’s numerous Central Italian immigrants supported five bakeries. The senior Pagliai’s came to America with family recipes committed to memory. Their son, Sam, started selling “tomato tarts” in 1953 in Ames taverns. By 1957, word of mouth about those doughy treats led to his first restaurant — The Pizza House — which he opened with his brother Armond.

These days, the Iowa-based, family-owned Pagliai’s Pizza restaurants go through 12,000 pounds of cheese, 9,000 pounds of flour, and 1,000 gallons of tomato sauce each month keeping customers happy. Specials such as $2 glasses of wine, $5.50 spaghetti dinners and $10 two-topping pizza (the same prices as five years ago) help make this one of the busiest restaurants in the metro. Pies are thin-crusted but not crispy enough to be called tavern style. Nor are they malleable enough to be called New York style. Double-crusted pies are offered as an option. Cheese is promoted as “100 percent Mozzarella.” Tomato sauce is quite fresh with visible chunks of tomato and obvious use of garlic and oregano. The restaurant has never changed John & Katrina’s pizza sauce recipe.

Are we still one of your favorites? Help us vote! Each week the number of restaurants will be cut in half — so help us stay on top. Here’s a link that will take you directly to the voting.

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