Palo Mesa Pizza of Arroyo Grande wins award for best pie in the region

An Arroyo Grande pizzeria can now claim the title of best traditional pizza in the region.

Michael Stevens, chef and owner of Palo Mesa Pizza of Arroyo Grande, won that honor earlier this month at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, according to a company news release.

More than 10,000 people attended the annual trade show dedicated to the pizza industry, March 19 through 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.Established in 2007, the International Pizza Challenge pits up to 60 chefs against each other in the Traditional and Non-Traditional divisions, according to the International Pizza Expo website.

Contestants are required to bring their own ingredients, while trade show management provides equipment, ovens and refrigeration space.

A panel of judges, composed of chefs, food critics and pizza connoisseurs, scores each pizza on taste – including cheese, crust, sauce and toppings – and visual presentation/appearance.

Stevens, whose pizza featured homemade Italian sausage and fresh banana peppers, took first place in the competition’s Southwest Region Division of the United States. His creation finished in fifth place overall, although another pie took the coveted “Best Pizza in the World” title.

“The one thing I take away from this event that I’m most proud of is the fact that the pie I won with was something we serve to people on the Central Coast each and every day,” Stevens said in the news release.

Palo Mesa Pizza operates two restaurants in Arroyo Grande, one on South Halcyon Street and the other on Rancho Parkway.