The smell of fresh hot pizza and the sound of Dean Martin's "On An Evening in Roma" filled the air as people gathered to watch the second annual pizza eating contest at in Holbrook Saturday.
Contenstants Paul Hausmann, Luke Reisner, Andy Raab, Darnell Clarke, Ryan Charpentier, Joe Kahl, J.R. Zirpoli and defending champion Matt Lauria competed to see who could eat the most slices of cheese pizza in 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes was up, Lauria took the title of Pizza King again, as well as a $150 gift card towards the restaurant. He ate a total of nine slices of pizza, only half a slice away from the record he set last year.
"I feel pretty full," Lauria said after the competition ended.
A very enthusiastic crowd cheered on the pizza-eaters as they downed their slices. Many people took pictures and video while chanting "Eat that pie!" to encourage the competitors.
Some eaters faced difficulties while chowing down on their pizzas. Charpentier got sick and had to stop for a moment after his first few slices. Lauria's pie fell off the table about six slices in, and Zirpoli only made it about three slices before he backed out of the competition.
Many of the competitors had different ways to eat their pizza slices as fast as they could. Lauria said his strategy was the reverse fold, where the pizza was folded with the cheese on the outside. After biting down to the crust, Lauria dipped it in water to make it softer and easier to chew.
During the competition, Clarke was only a slice of pizza behind Lauria, something that caught the defending champion off guard.
"I was terrified, actually," he said.
The eight contestants were chosen after they entered a raffle, and Lauria was automatically entered after his win last year. They each received a t-shirt to wear while they competed.
Spectators enjoyed free pizza after the competition ended, as well as free cotton candy.
Joe's Pizzeria has been in Holbrook for 33 years. The restaurant is owned by Peter Donofrio, who thought of the idea of the pizza eating competition last year.
"It just seemed like it would be a fun idea and a good way to give back to the community," said Phil Donofrio, Peter's son as well as an employee at the restaurant and the host of the competition.
Although Lauria is from Babylon, he said that there is no doubt he will participate next year, even though his win automatically guarantees him a spot in the competition.
"Absolutely," he said. "Until I lose."