Polito’s pizza challenge

By Dylan Matousek

Lumen Reporter

Looking for something to do in downtown La Crosse?  Too young to go to the bars?  Downtown La Crosse features far more than just alcohol.

A few of these establishments are Pearl Street Books and Riverside Park. Another location, though not for the faint of heart, is Polito’s Pizza.

Polito’s Pizza, one of seven pizza shops downtown, is ready to serve those of you with an appetite.  It features as many as 32 different specialty pizzas, as well as a variety of sides and desserts.  It is located at 116 Third Street S. in the heart of downtown.

The thing that Polito’s is most famous for is the “28 inch Pizza Challenge” with a prize of $500.  For those of you thinking about undertaking the challenge, the rules are: two people, one hour, no bathroom breaks.  The contestants are allowed water during the challenge.

Just what exactly does eating this pizza entail, though?  It is five pounds of crust, 1.5 pounds of sauce, three pounds of cheese, and 2.5 pounds of meat.  Jeff Zarecki, one of Polito’s general managers, suggested training in advance to prepare your stomach for such a load of food.

There has only been one team from La Crosse to successfully finish the challenge.  They accomplished this feat in August 2011, and finished in under 10 minutes.  Zarecki’s number one piece of advice for prospective contestants was, “don’t be weak minded.”

Polito’s’ hours are Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. — 3 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Being open after bar-time, Polito’s gets its share of hijinks from intoxicated patrons.

“We get people that pass out sometimes or try to steal slices.  It’s kind of like babysitting at times,” Zarecki remarked.  “We love our customers, though, and for the most part they are respectable and upstanding,” he said.

Oliver Smith, senior Viterbo nursing major from Cambridge, Wis., and regular Polito’s patron, said, “I love Polito’s.  There’s no better way to end a night out than with a nice big slice of Mac’ N Cheese pizza and it’s super cheap.  A huge slice is only about $3.”

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