Local pizza places compete in U.P. poll

MARQUETTE – Today marks the beginning of National Pizza Month, and several local restaurants known for their pies squared off against each other in a recent online poll aimed at finding the best pizza provider in the Upper Peninsula.

Congress Pizza in Ishpeming, Tino’s Bar and Pizza in Negaunee and Vango’s Pizza in Marquette were three of the 12 U.P. restaurants competing in MLive.com’s online survey, though additional restaurants could be added as write-ins.

Voting for the online survey ended at noon Friday, and official results were not available by press time for this story. However, as of early Friday, Riverside Pizzeria in Iron River was leading the contest with roughly 20 percent of votes cast.

The Congress had nearly 12 percent of the votes, while Tino’s had roughly 9 percent and Vango’s had about 7 percent.

Regardless of which restaurant wins, the owners of the Marquette County pizza places were still pleased to be part of the survey.

“It holds weight just to see the community voting for us as a favorite pizza,” said Jason Argall, co-owner of Tino’s. “More or less, it gets your name out for people who don’t necessarily know about TIno’s.”

Tino’s most popular pizza is pepperoni, cudighi sausage and mushroom, Argall said, adding that the pies are still made from the same family recipe created by his late father, John Argall, who passed away in January 2015.

John Argall purchased the business from August and Carmen Barbiere in 1982, and after his death the restaurant was passed to his family members.

“We’re a family-owned and operated business and we take pride in our product and enjoy seeing both the familiar faces and unfamiliar faces coming in,” Jason Argall said.

Tino’s, which first opened in 1962, is located at 220 Iron St., Negaunee.

Cudighi is another popular topping choice at Congress Pizza, at 106 Main St., Ishpeming.

“We make our own dough, our own sauce, our own cudighi. Everything is fresh, it’s all thin crust,” said owner Mike Koski. “Pizza is what we do. Pizza and cudighi sandwiches, that’s our whole menu. That’s it. That’s all you need.”

The Congress was opened by A. Louis Bonetti in 1934 as a full restaurant and cafe, Koski said.

Named after the U.S. Congress, it was one of the first establishments in Ishpeming to receive a liquor license following the adoption of the 21st Amendment and repeal of prohibition in 1933.

The Congress began serving pizzas in 1958, which Koski said was “the best thing that ever happened.”

“You’ve got a tradition here that’s second to none,” he said. “It’s an honor to be part of such an establishment with such rich history, tradition. The Bonettis had owned it before, they did a great job, and I’m honored to be able to take over the steering wheel and give her a ride. It’s been fun. I’ve been doing it for 17 years now.”

Koski said the Congress still uses the same recipe that was created nearly 60 years ago.

Known as Marquette’s oldest pizza parlor, Vango’s is continuing that tradition by serving up pizzas with fresh dough, sausage and sauce made daily.

“We are the longest running pizza place in Marquette,” said co-owner Rob Caron. “We do everything from scratch every single day … and I think it shows in the quality of the pizza, and that’s why people keep coming back.”

Caron said Vango’s most popular pizza is the house special, which features pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green pepper and onions. But another unique option, he said, is the Greek pizza, with spinach, onions, and feta, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

“(Vango’s) founder was Greek and a lot of that comes through in the cooking,” Caron said.

In business since the 1960s, Vango’s is located at 927 N. Third St., Marquette.

“Everybody has their favorite,” Caron said. “We’re just happy that so many people in Marquette like Vango’s and choose it as their favorite and keep coming back.”

Other U.P. pizza restaurants listed in the poll include: The Ambassador in Houghton; Angelo’s in Ironwood; Gino’s in Hancock; Mustang Lounge on Mackinac Island; The Pizza Oven in Kingsford; Quincy’s Restaurant in Dollar Bay; Raven’s Nest in Crystal Falls; and The Saloon in Gladstone.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.