Pizza madness Round 1: Collier County winners and results right here

Diana Biederman
Naples Daily News

UPDATE: Winners are listed below and moving on to the Elite 8.

And the nominees are … oops, that’s the Oscars, an altogether different March competition.

Want to know how we whittle 43 pizzerias down to Collier County's Sweet 16 pizza challenge? It’s strictly determined by the number of readers’ nominations, one per email address, received during the official Feb. 15-24 countdown clock.

Was I bummed that four of JLB’s favorites for National Pizza Day were among 22 pizzerias two-point or foul-shot scorers?

Naples March Madness bracket 2023 | Round 2 Matchups

Of course, but this was all about what you, your neighbors and friends think are the area's tippy-top pizza joints.

Our bracket contenders slam-dunked their competitors in a big way.

Sweet 16 pizza challenge voting starts March 6. All you need to do is click your favorite per bracket.

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JLB's latest Naples review:The seafood dish of the year found downtown at new Italian cafe

Round of 8 voting guide

  • First-round voting began at 5 a.m. Monday, March 13, and ended at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16.
  • Final Four voting begins March 20 featuring the previous round's winners.

Collier County's Best Pizza Challenge voting dates

  • Sweet 16: March 6-9
  • Elite 8: March 13-16
  • Final Four: March 20-23
  • THE FINALS: March 27-28
  • Winner announced Monday, April 3

If the polls do not immediately load, refresh the page. The poll generally loads better on desktops and laptops rather than on mobile devices. If you have issues voting in the app, try using your browser. Also, avoid using Firefox browser.

Vesuvio’s vs. Peppi’s, both Naples

WINNER: Vesuvio's by 1.38%. A nail-biter down to the wire.

Is it Vesuvio’s pies or the pizzeria’s popular bartender-server-manager Tami “is amazing” Heflinger who earned acclaim from 90% of readers nominating this spot nestled within Gulf Coast Inn? Mike Kahrer said, “It has a very tasty sauce and delicious cheese. They will cook it to your liking and I've never been disappointed.” (2555 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 239-594-1966; vesuvios-pizza.business.site)

Vesuvio's bartender-server-manager Tami “is amazing” Heflinger.

A few avenues heading north on 41, Peppi’s near Park Shore has been serving Italian classics, most notably pizza, for 20 years. Several supporters noted the “Cadillac” as their favorite. "Creative toppings" like tuna and cherry peppers also earned high marks. (4111 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 239-659-0280; peppispizzeria.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

Osteria Tulia vs. La Trattoria, both Fifth Avenue South, downtown Naples

WINNER: La Trattoria, the Cinderella in this bracket, made a late second half push with voters, earning the rights to move on.

Aaron Sanson singled out Osteria Tulia’s “creative variety of choices and fresh ingredients with just the right chew to it and char on the crust." Reader Karin Chisholm chimed in, “It was the first time here in the states that we have had a pie as good as any we ever had in Italy. Magnifico!” (466 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-213-2073; osteriatulia.com)

Osteria Tulia's "My Michelle" pizza, $20.

One of the first restaurants when entering the Avenue from U.S. 41 is La Trattoria, a popular late-night haunt among chefs and servers after work; it's buzzing until 1 a.m. For those who love white pies, there are a dozen selections. For those preferring pizza “rosse,” there are nine choices. It always feels like a party. (878 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-315-4571; latrattorianaples.com)

La Trattoria's festive atmosphere attracts pizza lovers until 1 a.m.

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

Baci vs. Luigi’s, East Naples

WINNER: Luigi's by a longshot.

Will a turf war follow in this neighborhood?

Baci’s “Grandma Cheese” pizza is cited by several readers as the first and last pizza they want to eat forever. (2364 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-304-9553; bacipizzanaples.com)

About Luigi’s, across the street from Baci, one reader said, “An old Italian friend suggested this pizzeria and yum, yum. Best pizza we have ever had anywhere.” (2331 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-775-6669; luigisofnaples.net)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

Joey D’s, Immokalee and Marco vs. Joey’s, Marco

WINNER: Joey D's 3 to 1.

What’s in a name?

Joey D’s two “nicely decorated” locations scored enough combined nominations to earn a berth. A third outpost near Davis Boulevard closed in 2022. Reader Joe Graeber said, “The best pizza for me is the Joey D's special." Several nods specified “how close it is to New Jersey’s best” pizza. (Two locations: 2356 Immokalee Road, Naples; 239-597-8545; and 701 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island; 239-389-5639; joeydsnaples.com)

Joey D’s Italian Restaurant & Bar on Marco Island.

Reader Jackie Maginsky told us, “Without a doubt, the best pizza is at Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House. Its ‘Way Paper Thin’ pizza is better than any I’ve tasted anywhere else; the dough is thin and crusty and the toppings are plentiful and tasty.” My two cents: Go before you’re hungry. It’s very popular and there’s almost always a wait at dinner, even off-season. (257 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-389-2433; joeyspizzamarco.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

Pizzata, North Naples vs. Nunzio’s

WINNER: Pizzata

Two Naples newbies who opened last summer scored spots in the nomination process.

Pizzata Pizzeria & Apertivo also earned a coveted spot on JLB’s top pizza list in February. Readers like it too: Robert Raasch shared, “I drive from South Naples to pick up a pie. A very good crust.” Karen Chilutti, who I met when doing Pizzata pickup, emailed “Best crust, best everything, innovative and also best owners. Philly pizza in Naples. Love everything on the menu.” Joel Gravina, a member of a monthly Naples pizza-tasting entourage inspired by NDN's “42 of our favorite slices” story, said “Pizzata is my No. 1.” (1201 Piper Blvd., North Naples; 239-631-1021; pizzatanaples.com)

Pizzata's “Burrata,” with red sauce, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, basil and burrata.

Nunzio’s Taste of Italy took over Palumbo’s last summer and is earning raves too. Reader Jerry Lee said he ate at “another place often mentioned in the paper for years. One visit to Nunzio’s and I have become a regular. Best thin crust in Naples.” (3375 Pine Ridge Road, Naples; 239-431-7688; nunziostasteofitaly.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

ZZA Baby vs. Mister O1, Vanderbilt Beach Road area

WINNER: Zza Baby with a come-from-behind surge in the last 24 hours.

Suzy Thomas is a former Chicago resident who is "very picky" about her pizza. “I've struggled to find a local pizza that truly hits the spot. I finally found a deep-dish pizza that is authentic and rivals even the best Chicago has to offer. It's at Zza Baby. If you are a deep-dish fan, this pizza will meet all your expectations.” All nominations cited great service at Mercato's solo pizza palace. (9118 Strada Place, North Naples; 239-591-5459; zzababy.com)

Inside Zza Baby at Mercato.

Mr. O1 is “extraordinary indeed. Once you try it you’ll never go back to ordinary pizza,” said Duane Riffe. NDN’s JLB visited this spot at Galleria Shoppes and raved in 2019, “The salt of the cheeses, the spice of the salami, the faint sweetness of honey, the coffee thrumming rich and earthy in the background — it's more than one bite can explain. So you go in for another. And another. Then a third slice, and why not a sixth? And have I even touched on this star-shaped thing?” (2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road; North Naples; 239-631-6844; mistero1.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

The Crust vs. NY Pizza & Pasta, North Naples

WINNER: NY Pizza & Pasta by 2 points.

Dale Larsen’s nomination noted, “The Crust is the best pizza I've ever had. The toppings go all the way to the edge, so no extra wasted crust. The volume of the toppings is much greater than most. If you order garlic as a topping, they give you enough to actually taste it.” Steve Diamond chimed in: “Their crust is crisp and airy and their pepperoni is loaded. Definitely a unique type of pizza that is to die for!" From James Wehner: “Fresh ingredients, generous toppings extend all the way to the edge, fantastic crust.” (8004 Trail Blvd., North Naples; 239-244-8488; thecrustpizza.net)

Tony Celata said, “Being a recent snowbird and enjoying good pizza from Boston, I’d say "Grandma's Pizza" from New York Pizza & Pasta is our go-to for the past few years ... just about perfect.” Another mentioned the pizzeria’s “best crust in Florida!” Ann Miller shared how it’s “extremely difficult to find a replicate of delicious New Jersey-style pizza I was raised on; however, the closest is New York Pizza & Pasta. Great stop!” (Two North Naples locations: 11140 Tamiami Trail N.; 239-594-3500 and 8855 Immokalee Road; 239-597-3800; nypp.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

LowBrow vs. Twisted Sheep, both East Naples

WINNER: Twisted Sheep, another Cinderella come-from-behind scorer.

Another same neighborhood bracket, this one pitting the cool kids crafting creative pizzas against each other for a chance to be Collier’s ultimate champ.

When Dave Portnoy makes it a point to stop by your pizzeria, game on baby. Though Portnoy gave LowBrow’s sister pizzeria Industry on Pine Ridge a higher score, that location didn't receive enough nominations to make the brackets. Paul Gustafson "couldn't believe" LowBrow wasn't mentioned on JLB's Southwest Florida’s top dozen pizzas list. Mr. G., here's your chance to right a wrong. Beth Oliver loves LowBrow, singling out its “chewiness, fold-over, charred crust, correct ratio of toppings plus fun, irreverent menus and cool vibe." (3148 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-529-6919; lowbrowpizzaandbeer.com)

A "facemelter" pizza topped with pepperoni arrabiatta, hot cappicola, ricotta-fermented chilies and honey ricotta from LowBrow Pizza & Beer.

The very first bracket nomination received came from Leslie Vincent, who loves Twisted Sheep, calling it “absolutely the best!!!” Yours truly loves it too and is always torn between “Roni Pepperoni” and veggie-loaded vegan “Pizzatarian” where you don’t miss the mozz. Twisted is one of two pizzerias (the other, Pizzata) getting the love from both readers and JLB. (3802 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-919-3287; twistedsheepfl.com)

Using the app? Click here to cast your vote.

Care to share a quote for editorial consideration? Connect via bestpizza@naplesnews.com.