* (1) West Paris General Store

* (2) Sideline Variety, Norway

* (3) The Lake Store, Norway

* (4) Yianni’s House of Pizza, South Paris

* (5) Polly’s Variety Store, Oxford

* (7) Mallard Mart, West Paris

* (8) Ed-O’s, Oxford (Best Pepperoni, Best Loaded, Best Overall)

* (11) Dad’s Place LLC, Norway

* (12) Amato’s Italian Shop of Norway, Inc.

* (13) Springers General Store, Waterford (Best Cheese)

* (14) Ari’s Pizza and Subs, Norway

Oh, Ed-O’s!
Foodies say Oxford shop has best pies in the Hills

OXFORD – For 90 minutes on Saturday, 145 people of all ages serving as culinary judges in the debut Oxford Hills Pizza Challenge ate their way through tables and tables of tantalizingly tempting pepperoni, cheese and loaded pizzas.

When tummies were stuffed and grease-coated ballots were counted, Ed-O’s of Oxford won the Oxford Recreation Department event, which drew 33 entries from 11 Oxford Hills area stores.

“Wow! Wooohoo!” Ed-O’s owner Ed Knightly exclaimed on entering the Station House Community Center after judging and being told his pepperoni and loaded entries won both categories and best overall pizza.

Springers General Store of Waterford won the Best Cheese Pizza category.

Knightly opened his store in 2001 and converted it into a pizza and sub-sandwich shop last year.

He wouldn’t divulge the ingredients of his pizzas that so delighted the taste buds of a majority of voters. However, he did say the secret’s in the sauce, specifically with three ingredients he adds. Knightly said he also uses a different type of pepperoni than the norm.

When asked by event organizer and rec department Chairwoman Pam Lovely if he wanted to leave the Best Pizza plaque behind for engraving, Knightly pulled it back, saying, “Oh no, I’m going to go show it off first.”

Afterward, both he and Lovely said the turnout was great.

“It’s going really good,” rec department member Ashley Colby said mid way through. “We opened it up to all of Oxford Hills, because there are only three pizza places in Oxford. Hopefully, it will stick around for a long time.”

That was the general opinion of several members of the public, who were tasked with tasting slices of up to 11 pizzas per category and section of tables.

“It sounded like something really fun to do when we saw it in the paper,” Reino Kahkonen of South Paris said of he and his 11-year-old daughter, Annika Kahkonen of Oxford. “And, we like pizza, too. That doesn’t hurt.”

Saturday was boys’ day out for Rob True and his 7-year-old son, Robert Junior, both of Lewiston, and their friend, Steve Fortier and son Tyler, both of Auburn.

“We were looking to do something with the boys and we saw it in the paper,” Rob True said. “I love pizza … We came right in and chowed. The sauce is what I go for. I’m a sauce man.”

Fortier said his love of pizza and the opportunity to spend time with his friend and their two boys attracted him to the pizza challenge.

There was still plenty left an hour into the event, but only two remaining slices of pepperoni entry No. 8 (Ed-O’s). Still, people and families continued to enter the center to participate, right up until five minutes before judging ended at 1:45 p.m.

Although the strong scent of tomato sauce filled the large room, the distinct aroma from just walking between the tables topped with loaded pizzas was quite intoxicating, even on a full stomach.

“On the loaded (category), I like fresh vegetables and the one I picked had more fresh vegetables on it,” Bonnie Hurlburt of Oxford said of entry No. 12 from Amato’s Italian Sandwich Shop of Norway Inc.

A few said the contest would have been better had the pizzas been judged while still warm. Others, like Randy Hicks of Paris, said there were too many to choose from.

“There was quite an assortment, so it was tough to pinpoint one, but it was fun trying,” Reino Kahkonen said.

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