Pair of Caliente Pizza pies voted best in world

Caliente Pizza chef Von Hansen wins ‘best non-traditional’ pie; general manager Oz Turcan runner-up for ‘best traditional’ at International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV, March 22, 2018: Caliente Pizza and Draft House, with four Pittsburgh area locations at 4624 Liberty Ave in Bloomfield, and 4706 William Flynn Hwy in Allison Park, 329 Castle Shannon Blvd in Mount Lebanon, and 225 Commercial Ave. in Aspinwall, had two of its chefs win top honors at the 2018 International Pizza Expo.

Chef Eric Von Hansen’s pizza “Wagyu Beef Truffle Fromage” won first place in the Best Non-Traditional division. His fine-dining inspired pie featured black truffles, roasted shallots, fingerling potato hash, white cheddar, a simple syrup made with bing cherries marinated in vanilla beans and bourbon, and $88 per pound brown Wagyu beef. Von Hansen previously won first place in the Pan division at the 2016 expo with “Quack Attack,” but finished in second last year in the Non-Traditional.

“I wanted a little redemption,” Von Hansen said. “Deep down inside I knew I could win it. That hunger just grew and I wanted to prove it to myself that I could do it.”

There are no limitations on ingredients in the Non Traditional division. He said his inspiration for the pie stemmed from his experiences working in fine dining. Those higher-end dishes, he said, exemplified everything you could want in a food dish and he tried to bring that same style, presentation and flavor to life with a pizza.

Von Hansen was proud of his pizza but more excited by the recognition it brought to Pittsburgh, a city unfortunately an afterthought when lists of great pizza towns are compiled.

“People should take notice of what Pittsburgh is doing,” he said. “[The city] doesn’t really get a lot of respect when it comes to making pizza. You hear New York, New Jersey, Chicago but Pittsburgh doesn’t fall on the spectrum for pizza. So when I go up there I’m representing the city not just myself.”



Caliente Pizza and Draft House owner Nick Bogacz agrees. He and his wife recently opened their fourth store in Aspinwall, and says the honors are proof that locally sourced ingredients and daily made-from- scratch dough put them on the map.

“I am so proud of our team for winning a world championship three years in a row,” Bogacz said. His chef Matt Hickey bested 30 international competitors to claim the World Pizza Games Gold Medal for “largest dough stretch” in 2017. “It feels great bringing it back to the City of Champions.”

The competition side of the International Pizza Expo, now in its 33rd year, is the largest pizza-making competition in the U.S. and includes bake-offs before judges in five divisions. The winners of each division qualify for Pizza Maker of the Year, essentially the “best in show” award. The five divisions include Traditional, Non-Traditional, Pan, Pizza Napoletana and Gluten-Free. Pizza taste is judged on crust, toppings, overall taste, and creativity; Presentation is marked by bake and visual appearance.

Also representing Caliente was general manager Oz Turcan who placed second among 65 competitors in the Traditional division. Originally from Turkey, “Ozzie” baked a pizza as homage to his country and featured ricotta cheese made from a 76 year-old Turkish family recipe.

“It was a great experience for me,” Turcan said. “It was very tough competition and felt great to finish so high.”

Finishing strong for Caliente was chef Nick Fink who finished fourth in the Pan Division; Hickey finished in the top 10 for longest dough stretch.

About Caliente

Caliente Pizza and Draft House is Pittsburgh’s premier spot for award winning pizza and wings. Caliente is proud to support the craft beer revolution in Pittsburgh and features local and hard to find beer from around the world. Caliente prides itself on using fresh and locally sourced ingredients “Fresh From Pittsburgh’s Little Italy.” Caliente’s pizza dough and sauce is prepared daily from scratch. All meats and vegetables are hand-sliced. More information about Caliente Pizza and Draft House can be found by visiting PizzaDraftHouse.com.

About the 2018 International Pizza Expo

The expo started in 1985 and has grown to welcome more than 7,400 attendees representing nearly 520 companies from around the world. Features business-to-business trade show that puts buyers who are owners and managers of independent and chain pizza restaurants in touch with manufacturers and service providers to the industry. Annual competitions at Pizza Expo include: International Pizza Challenge (bake-offs before judges in five divisions, with Pizza Maker of the Year finals); World Pizza Games (skills competition in five divisions).

Approximately 90 keynote addresses, seminars, panel discussions and pizzeria menu demonstrations take place during the event. More information: PizzaExpo.com. ###