Local pizzeria owners are voicing excitement over a recently introduced bill that would make pizza the official state food.
State Rep. Patricia A. Dillon and Sen. Gary A. Winfield introduced the proposal to designate pizza as the state food earlier this year. The purpose is to “recognize the contribution of pizza to the state’s cuisine and economy.”
The bill was recently passed by a legislative committee 19-0, but still must be approved by the full House and Senate.
Bash Vinca, owner of Casa di Roma in Meriden, agrees pizza is an important cuisine in the state.
“I agree with it,” Vinca said. “There are a lot of good pizza places and pizza makers in Connecticut — so why not?”
Taste of New Haven, a food and drink tour organization, created a petition on change.org in support of the bill. One of the reasons the group is encouraging people to sign the petition is that the state has some of oldest pizzerias in the United States.
The petition currently has 448 signatures.
Domenic’s and Vinnie’s has been in business for 70 years. The pizzeria began in 1949 in Waterbury before branching out to Middlebury and then later Southington.
“As a pizza maker and pizza owner, I think it would be a great thing,” said Mike Annenberg, co-owner of Domenic’s and Vinnie’s. “There’s a pizza place on every corner and it’s not going away. It puts us at the top of the food chain in Connecticut’s food industry.”
Oakdale Pizza in Wallingford has been in business for almost 40 years. Manager George Groumousas is in favor of the bill and prides himself on using the same recipe he started with.
“I’ve been here for 37 years,” he said. “I’m so happy and my customers are so happy with the same pizza for 37 years. I think it would be a good thing”
During the most recent public hearing on March 26, several business owners and state officials, including New Haven’s Mayor Justin Elicker, testified in support of the bill while one person disagreed.
Susan Ranstead, of North Granby, wrote a letter saying she is “thoroughly against” naming pizza as the state’s official food.
“While we have a high number of pizza restaurants per capita, pizza has nothing to do with New England in general or Connecticut in particular,” she wrote. “Instead, I believe the lobster roll should have the honor.”
Pasquale Pugliese, owner Lido’s Pizza Restaurant in Meriden, also supports the bill.
“We (Connecticut) have the best pizza in the country,” he said. “It’s a very good thing.”