Barstool Sports' Dave Portnoy Visits the Pizza Capital of the World and Madness Ensues!

Famed Pizza Reviewer Travels to Old Forge Pennsylvania and Small Town Social Media Explodes!

Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports leaves Revello's Cafe with a Tray of Old Forge Pizza
On what was supposed to be a normal lunch break for me, I received a text message from a friend containing a photo of Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports and fellow (but much more famous) Pizza Reviewer walking out of what looked to be Revello's Pizza Cafe in Old Forge.  My first thought was that someone photoshopped El Presidente in the Pizza Capital of the World to get a rise out of me, but after quickly verifying with a friend of a friend that the image was authentic, NEPA Pizza Review was able to report the story that the wildly popular and controversial pizza connoisseur was in Old Forge with his sidekick and camera man Frankie!  The news spread rapidly with the photo reaching 130,000 people and gaining 47,000 engagements on the NEPA Pizza Review facebook page.  My phone immediately became unusable as I received so many texts, messages, and comments that I had to mute it and get back to work.  By the time the day was done, the frenzy was so crazy that local TV and Newspapers were reaching out to me for comment!

Speaking of comments, the wildly popular post sparked a ton of debate and controversy.  As it turns out, Mr. Portnoy evoked strong feelings from his loyal "stoolie" following in support of him as well as some vitriol from those who don't approve of his brand of unfiltered commentary.  As I followed the comments, it turned out that there is much controversy surrounding Old Forge Pizza itself.  People who love a tray of Old Forge Pizza came out to proclaim the best pizza in the world while the NY Round Pizza truthers made their cases against pizzas including American cheese on pizza.  A lot of strong opinions and misinformation was spread in a mostly sporting but sometimes nasty debate, but generally the comments broke down into several categories:

  • Where is Dave now?
  • Why didn't Dave go to ... pizzeria?
  • Dave is going to trash Old Forge Pizza because he likes thin crust.
  • Why Old Forge Pizza is the best.
  • Why Old Forge Pizza is the worst.
  • Why Old Forge Pizza isn't pizza at all
  • Why Dave is a terrible person.
  • Why Dave is the greatest.
  • Why Old Forge is a brilliant marketing town.
  • Why Old Forge isn't the Pizza Capital of the World

You get the idea.  Everybody had an opinion and they willingly shared it.  I shared my opinion in The Citizens Voice and Scranton Times:

"Jim Mirabelli, who runs local pizza connoisseur account NEPA Pizza Review, also followed Portnoy’s visit Wednesday. Mirabelli noted Portnoy is a controversial figure and, given its distinct taste and style, Old Forge pizza always gets people talking. That’s a good thing, he said.

“Combining Barstool Sports with Old Forge pizza, it created a ton of buzz,” he said. “Whether you love Dave or you hate him, whether you like Old Forge pizza or not, this was a positive thing that really shined a light on small businesses in this area.”


Following the craziness, photos started popping up of locals getting photos with Portnoy all over social media.  All told, he visited 6 different pizzerias in Old Forge.  The first video at Revello's Pizza Cafe was published a day or so later with a 7.4 out of 10.  A review of El Presidente's previous scores reveals that a 7.4 is an above average score for his personal rating system despite folks trying to interpret it as a negative review.  Listen to his words and you will hear a common theme in all of the videos "I like this pizza" and "This is good pizza."  Despite his vulgar comedy schtick regarding the Old Forge Pizza Capital Landmark, his views on the cuts of pizza themselves were largely positive.  He also seemed to enjoy the town more and more with every place he tried with crazy encounters and outtakes along the way.

At the end of the day, Dave's opinion is not going to convince a person who hates Old Forge pizza to suddenly like it, nor is someone who is opposed to his views going to suddenly be a fan of his but the visit did accomplish a couple of things.  First, it confirms that whether or not you recognize Old Forge as the true pizza capital of the world or not, you cannot deny that the moniker and marketing is what compelled the Barstool team to travel 2.5 hours to try the pizza.  Next, whether you love or hate El Presidente or Old Forge pizza, you must recognize that this brought a ton of attention to a small town and a handful of small businesses.  Small businesses sponsor little league teams and buy a little girl's dance shoes rather than the large corporate chains with unlimited advertising budgets whose profits frequently don't stay local.  This quick visit created a ton of buzz and excitement for a small, tight knit community who works very hard at their craft and it's nice to see local businesses in the spotlight.  I personally have received a number of messages from people outside of NEPA who are going to travel to the Pizza Capital of the World to try the pizza after viewing the videos.  I've been helping coordinate itineraries for people living out of state, and that says to me that this visit is paying dividends for this town.

But enough of what I think, check out the actual reviews below (video credit to Barstool Sports and One Bite).  If you aren't a fan of foul language then I suggest skipping these reviews and reading my more vanilla and safe reviews on my website and YouTube Channel!
Revello's Pizza Cafe - Score: 7.4

Arcaro & Genell - Score: 7.5

Cusumano - Score: 7.6

Cafe Rinaldi - Score: 7.6

Salerno's Cafe - Score: 7.1

Mary Lou's Pizza - Score: 7.3

What are your thoughts on Dave Portnoy's visit to the Pizza Capital of the World and his review scores?  Leave your opinions in the comments!

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