BY LARRY DEKLINSKI

ATLAS - The area's best Italian food and drink makers competed last Saturday evening at the Atlas American Legion Post 804's 12th Annual Wine, Pasta and Soupie Contest. Dozens of Legion members and non-members packed the building to watch judges award the best tasting wine, cappicola, pepperoni, salami, laganiga, lemoncello, pasta and soupie and to get a taste of the delectable foods and drinks.

"The unique thing about this contest is it includes more than soupie," said Art Catino, contest committee member and owner of Catino's Italian Specialties, Mount Carmel. "There's more soupie being made around this area than anywhere else. It's a big thing."

In the soupie and wine categories, approximately 50 different soupies and 15 bottles of wine were entered by contestants. Judges had their hands full, literally, as flavors ranging from spicy to bland in soupies and dry to fruity in wines met their palettes.

To provide fair and equal judging, each entry was tagged with a number that corresponded to a contestant's name in a book, which only certain committee members could read. The entries were also placed on plates or cups to eliminate any chance that an entry would be associated with the contestant.

One at a time, food and wine was distributed to a panel of judges who consisted of Legion members, local celebrities and guests. Each judge gave a score between one and five that was based off look, and most importantly, taste. Scores were recorded and compiled for a total score then the highest score was crowned first place.

Winners in each category received a plaque donated by a local business, group or individual.

"It's good for the community and for people to bring their products in," said Legion treasurer Darryl Bronkoski. "It's become very popular, especially with the younger crowd."

When asked if he made soupies, Bronkoski said he loves them, but doesn't make them because he is Polish.

"It doesn't matter what nationality you are!" politely interrupted Legion trustee Pat Condron. "I'm Irish, and I love soupie!"

After the competition, any extra food was free to eat.

Live entertainment was provided by Barside DJ, "Coal Crackers Sounds" Hallside Band and "The Fobias."

The following winners were announced for the 2010 Wine, Pasta and Soupie Contest:

- Soupies: First place, Chris Venna; second, Pud McCarthy; third, Nick Bozza.

- Pepperoni: First place, Chris Venna; second Barry Roseman Jr.; third, Shawn Ryan.

- Laganiga: First place, Pat Condron; second, Mike Sinopoli.

- Pasta: First place, Taka Maurer; second, Sherry Roseman; third, Sandy Beaver.

- Cappicola: First place, Jim Lombard; second, Paul Tomcavage; third, Nick Bozza.

- Salami: First place, Tom Spears; second, Ray Koshinskie.

- Limoncello: First place, Ann Marie Reisinger.

- Wine: First place, Jim Powell; second, Bob Frank; third, Ken Berry.

2010 King and Queen of Wine, Pasta and Soupie Contest was awarded to Tony and Melinda Rosini.

Committee members are Judy Amarose, Sal Amarose, Erin Bronkoski, Art Catino, Maria Catino, Rick Catino, Adam Czeponis, Lisa D'Amico, Joanie Kogut, Eve Lyash, Joe McGinley, Tammy Mench, Linda Nolter and Marshall Scicchitano.

The committee members thanked all those who helped make the contest a success.