In the quest for Bama’s Best Pizza, a trio of judges discovered saucy, cheesy, crusty pie perfection worthy of the title at Carpenetti’s Pizzeria in Moody.
Owner Frank Carpenetti and family earned bragging rights in the contest, in addition to a plaque and cash prize. The Bama’s Best Pizza winner will also be featured on season seven of Simply Southern TV.
Contest sponsors were the Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (AFVGA) and Alabama Farmers Federation Dairy Division, whose members grow ingredients that make pizza possible.
“It’s just awesome,” Carpenetti said. “It’s like winning the Super Bowl. I want to thank all my customers and everyone who voted for me. I was on pins and needles all weekend.”
Carpenetti, whose grandfather Americus Carpenetti came to New York from Italy, grew up on a dairy farm. His job as a machinist drew Carpenetti to Alabama, where life pushed him toward pizza. Carpenetti’s Pizzeria will celebrate its 24th anniversary Aug. 7.
“We ate pizza all the time growing up, but I never made a pizza for anyone until I opened the restaurant,” Carpenetti said. “I’m here at six every morning, and I lock the door at night. I love it. You gotta love it.”
The restaurant’s décor evokes old-world warmth with red checked tablecloths, red and brick walls with painted ivy, and a logo paying homage to “The Sopranos” (complete with a handgun-shaped “r”).
Carpenetti keeps busy in the kitchen tossing pizza, swirling sauce and sprinkling toppings. Judges sampled classic pepperoni pizza; spinach Alfredo pizza; a pie topped with sliced Italian sausage, pepperoni, green peppers and onions; and a stuffed pizza jam-packed with 15 toppings.
Judges agreed: the chewy crust with crispy bottom was perfectly layered with sauce and cheese, but was just as good plain when the toppings were gone.
Deep-fried pepperoni chips, calzones, subs and salads are other menu favorites.
Bama’s Best Pizza judge Mary Wilson said she enjoyed meeting Frank and his genuine, humble, welcoming family, including wife Tammy, son Frankie, daughter-in-law April, daughter Beth, grandson Mikey and employee-that’s-like-family Brandon Barnett.
“It was easy to see it meant a lot to him for Carpenetti’s to be in the Flavorful Four,” said Wilson, the co-host of “Simply Southern TV.” “All the pizzas we tried at Carpenetti’s were flat-out fantastic. My favorite was the spinach Alfredo with the pepperoni coming in a close second.”
Judge Ellie Watson, the Sweet Grown Alabama agricultural branding program director, seconded Wilson’s comments.
“Frank and the entire Carpenetti’s crew know what it means to make great pizzas,” she said. “This authentic Italian experience paired with Southern hospitality will have you leaving the restaurant with a full stomach and feeling like you are part of the family.”
That welcoming experience was a common thread among Flavorful Four restaurants that hosted the slate of judges, which included AFVGA President Joe Lambrecht, Jan. 27 and 29. The other finalists were Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant in Sylacauga, Top-Notch Pizza & BBQ in Vernon, and Valentina’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Madison. All finalists received a plaque from contest sponsors.
The Flavorful Four were chosen in head-to-head matchups with other eateries on the “Simply Southern TV” Facebook page after nominations were solicited on the Alabama Farmers Federation page.
“This was a tough contest to judge because I enjoyed the pizza at all four places,” Wilson said. “Each restaurant owner takes such great pride in serving delicious meals to their customers, the same pride our farmers take in growing healthy, tasty products for those owners to use.”
To learn more, like Carpenetti’s Pizzeria on Facebook or visit the restaurant at 740 Park Ave., Moody, AL 35004. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.