Elizabeth---Two long-time Elizabeth pizzeria legends Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza and Spirito’s Restaurant have advanced to the Final Four of the NJ Pizzeria March Madness Bracket Challenge sponsored by Jersey Eats and Peter Genovese of NJ.com/Star Ledger.

The #1 seed Al Santillos Brick Oven Pizza cruised through the brackets and advanced with a resounding victory over #2 seed Frederici's of Freehold, generating 316 votes in the win... a tournament high tally. The iconic Santillo's, run by Al Santillo (whose grandfather started the business in 1918) will face #2 seed Brooklyn Pizza of the Jersey Shore (Jackson, Manalapan and Toms River) who upset #1 seed DeLorenzo's of Robbinsville. The #3 seed Spirito’s, which was founded in 1932, edged out the Reservoir Tavern of Parsippany and will face #4 seed Tony D's of Caldwell who beat #3 seed Pete and Elda's of Neptune. The voting will begin on Saturday, March 4th with the National Championship being played on Monday, April 6th, mirroring the same schedule as the NCAA Tournament that has been cancelled. Voters can support their teams by joining the group Jersey Eats and vote when the games are posted on Saturday and Monday.

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According to Pete Genovese of NJ.com, “We've done a food bracket of some kind the past few years; last year we did a 64 iconic NJ foods bracket; Taylor ham, to no one's surprise, won. This year we were kicking around ideas and pizza seemed like a natural choice; I've long said it's the number one hot topic in NJ - the quickest way to start an argument here is to say, "My pizzeria is better than yours!" I came up with the bracket, and it wasn't easy; so many worthy pizzerias were left off. It's based on my pizza experience; I've eaten at close to 1,500 different pizzerias in NJ. Our pizza bracket could come down to an all-Elizabeth championship game: Spirito's vs. Santillo's. We shall see.”

“My grandfather Louie Santillo taught Louie Spirito how to make pizza,” said the irascible,” Al Santillo.  “Louie Spirito claimed he taught my grandfather. Let's leave it at that?”

So, if you’re a fan of any of the Final Four teams or just a fan in general, please join the Facebook group Jersey Eats and vote when the link is posted on Saturday, April 4th and then again in the National Championship on Monday, April 6th.

Final Four :

#1 Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza (Elizabeth) vs. #2 Brooklyn Pizza (Jersey Shore)

#3 Spirito’s Restaurant and Tavern (Elizabeth)  vs. #4 Tony D’s of Caldwell