Vertosoft employees are as proud of the fact that their company was voted Washington Business Journal’s 2021 and 2022 “Best Places to Work” among small companies as that the Leesburg-based technology solutions company made the Forbes 5,000 list of fastest growing private companies for the second year in a row.
It’s clear the team embraces a culture of excellence in everything they do... even lunch.
Just by lurking on the Northern Virginia Foodies Facebook group -- a GREAT source of local food recommendations -- we learned that Dean Jackson and his colleagues had a friendly pizza taste-off going. Dean, a faithful contributor to the group, also has four kids, so he appreciates both value and quality in his pizza. Any professions of expertise aside, the ratings by the foursome who vetted eight local pizzas tasting bracket winners at least twice, were remarkably similar. A good pizza, say Dean, Mary Dawson, Andrew Hinebaugh and Pej Keshavarz, excels on all four levels: cheese, crust, sauce and value. Since places like Pupatella, a relative newcomer to Loudoun though it’s huge in Reston, win raves based primarily on the exotic nature of their toppings, the jury decided to level the playing field and rate only “cheese pizzas.” (Even that designation gets sticky, but we digress....)
Because of value, two of the more surprising entrants were Wegman’s and Costco, the latter of which Dean maintains is arguably one of the largest pizza chains in the country by distribution. Their “quick, grab and go” offering is a great value at just $10 for a large pizza, and was tasty enough to edge out Fireworks, but ultimately fell short of Giovanni’s New York Pizza.
The lineup followed an East-West / North-South bracket challenge. To the East: Pupatella bested Wegmans; to the North Solo trounced Rocco’s NY Pizza and Subs. First round West’s winner was Costco over Fireworks, and South’s Giovanni’s won over La Villa Roma. That set up a duel between Pupatella and Solo, which Solo won, and Giovanni’s beat Costco by 10 points.
The fun of having Solo face off with Giovanni’s is of course that Solo’s owner Said Mehenni, split from Giovanni’s in 2017 after many years. “He was none too happy about it at the time,” allows Said, speaking of Giovanni's owner Ciro Schiano di Cola. As for Ciro, he says the family-owned business has called Leesburg its home since 1982, and thrives by the quality of his ingredients. Ironically, BOTH Solo and Giovanni’s New York Pizza pizza owners say their favorite pizza is the Margherita pizza! We can only attest that, had these two pitted their extraordinary sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella against each other, it could have been a different story.
As it was, Giovanni’s edged out Solo by just one point. Crispier crust or a tad more sauce on either pie could have swung the vote, all agreed: “It was a buzzer beater,” said Pej.
So, why’d we train our spotlight on just one local business lunchroom when we’re just asking to be shouted down by other fans of other stellar shops not included in the Vertosoft taste-off? Well, first, there’s the relatively scientific approach with which the Vertosoft team – arguably skilled in weighing features and benefits in competing software solutions for government customers – went about their task. We liked their enthusiasm and the seriousness with which they rose to the challenge.
More importantly, if more local businesses weighed in with their own competitions, we’d all continue to be tantalized by an ever-increasing variety of great local pizza.
And besides – what’s better with beer?