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‘Wicked’ Fun: Cooking Comes Natural For Creator Of Beer Cheese Pizza

Wicked Warren’s Kitchen Manager Misty Sandagata places a beer cheese pizza in a wood-fired brick pizza oven. Sandagata’s creation is one of 13 finalists in the JTM Beer Cheese Throwdown. P-J photo by Michael Zabrodsky

WARREN, Pa. — When Misty Sandagata was notified, she was as surprised to find out that her beer cheese pizza recipe was a finalist.

Because it’s a national contest, she didn’t give any more thought to her recipe entry, and went about her usual routine.

But then the news came.

Wicked Warren’s Beer Cheese Pizza was chosen as one of 13 finalists in the JTM Beer Cheese Throwdown.

“It’s thrilling and it’s great,” Sandagata said. “It’s nice to be noticed and acknowledge for how hard you work. It makes it worth it. It’s a lot of long hours and a lot of long days.”

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Sandagata is the kitchen manager at Wicked Warren’s. She started at the brewery in June 2022.

“I have been working in kitchens pretty much my whole life,” Sandagat said. “Cooking comes natural.”

When she was raising her children, she was not impressed or happy with food ingredients — mainly additives and preservatives — so she sought alternatives.

“I started making my kids’ food from scratch,” Sandagata said. She added that once she began making her kids’ food, she had a lightbulb moment, and figured out that making food and food preparation were not work for her.

She said the work now can be stressful, but it’s a good stress. “It’s great and it’s fun,” Sandagata added as she was preparing a beer cheese pizza.

“I like to feed people. I like to make people happy” she said.

Sandagata said the pizza is probably the No. 1 seller at the brewery.

You would think that making pizza is simple — spread out the dough, ladle on some sauce, throw on some cheese and pepperoni, and your done.

Not so for Sandagata.

She takes her time with the ingredients, making sure all have their spaces. The dough is made from scratch as well as other food items. The beer cheese mixture is more like a base and it’s the first ingredient placed on the dough. Full disclosure — when The Post-Journal was there, Sandagata was using green dough for St. Patrick’s day. It turned out to be the right choice, she said.

The JTM cheese comes as a thick mixture in a 3-pound bag. It is poured into a sauce pan and 8 ounces of beer is added. The pan is placed in a wood-fired pizza oven to give it its signature smokey flavor.

“It’s not a lot of beer, but just enough to give it a little more flavor,” she said. The same, she said, for the wood. “It adds to the depth of flavor.”

Wicked Warren’s was founded in January of 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, owner Rob Roth said. He added that the brewery struggled, like many others, to keep the doors open all of 2021, and in 2022 brought about staff and managerial changes that really turned the brewery around for the better.

“One constant has been the beer. Drew Erlandson, brewer, came from Southern Tier Brewery with commercial experience as well as multiple years of home brewing experience. He has been with the company since day one. Drew maintains our 14 taps with a diverse selection of beer, seltzer and homemade pop,” Roth noted.

Roth also noted that Sandagata has added many new menu items such as pizza chips, panuzzos, salads, personal pizzas, stromboli, pepperoni balls, chicken wing rolls, bruschetta, and homestyle meatloaf sandwiches.

“With her in the lead we have been able to diversify the restaurant for special nights. Namely, Steak Night, when the brewery is transformed into a high-end steak house with white linens, candle light, jazzy music and black tie servers,” Roth said.

The brewery is located at 330 Pennsylvania Ave. W.

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