LUDLOW — James “Jimmy” Casapizziolo, of Casa Pizza in Ludlow, even sliced his prize-winning pizza like they do in New Haven: down the middle and then into strips that are folded.
“It’s a real mess, but I’m fascinated by it,” he said before rhapsodizing about all the different styles of ingredients, cuts and presentation made at famous pizzerias in Boston, Detroit and Chicago.
Casapizziolo — the last name really means “house of the pizza maker” or something like that — and his son, Jason, brought home first prize this week in the Traditional Division of the Best of the Northeast Competition at the Pizza and Pasta Northeast Expo in Atlantic City.
It was the fourth annual, two-day trade show for suppliers for pizzerias and Italian restaurants in the northeast U.S., held at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Sunday and Monday.
They beat out 40 other contestants with a pizza that isn’t even on the menu at Casa Pizza because with all the special ingredients it would cost about $40.
There is the organic oregano. “Fresh off the sprig where we shake it off so it’s as rich and fragrant as it can be,” the chef shared.
Then, there’s a special sauce, caramelized onions, fresh-chopped garlic and a basil drizzle that tops a super- thin, New Haven-style crust.
“”I took everything to the limits,” Caspizziolo said.
Casa Pizza, located at 325 East St., had already garnered favorable reviews from Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy and placed highly on MassLive’s Best of Mass Pizza list.
By profession, Casapizziolo is a music producer, working from home creating the soundtracks to television shows including MTV’s slate of reality programming. But, he explained, it’s lonely work.
“I get kind of bored after listening to the same loops and beats all the time,” he said. “I wanted pizza from New York.”
He owns the building where Casa is now located. It was vacant at the time so five years ago he got his son to help him start the pizzeria. It’s only open from 4 to 7:30 p.m. and closed Mondays.
“We do this four hours a day for fun,” he said.
At first, Casapizziolo was driving to Boston for ingredients, like char pepperoni. “It kind of curls, and it chars,” he said. “Now that I’ve ordered enough of it, the distributor sends it to me.”
Then there is the trendy Mike’s Hot Honey from Brooklyn, New York, that adds to the different styles of pizza that Casa Pizza makes, instead of focusing on one genre.
“We want people to get the specialties, the grandmas, the margherita pizza that New Haven ‘apizza’ (as it’s pronounced there),” Casapizziolo said. “It’s about two things at our shop. It’s about the crust, and how the crust is made.”