Tasty Tuesday: Get a New York slice at ‘Contenders’ in Hillsville

HILLSVILLE, Va. – This Tasty Tuesday, we take you somewhere that will leave you wanting more.

“Once we’ve got you in, we’ve got you. You’re going to want to come back for another slice,” said Sarah Bethel, one half of the couple behind Contenders.

Eric and Sarah Barthel are a husband-wife duo who’ve worked in the restaurant biz since they were teenagers.

After moving to Carroll County, it was time to become contenders in the local food scene.

“One thing I’ve never done is make pizzas. The smartest thing to do was come down here and open up a pizza place. you know how to cook. you know what you’re doing. we ate a lot of pizza trial and error,” they told us.

That trial-and-error led to... “homemade pizza. All the dough is homemade. all the sauces are made in-house,” Sarah said.

One of the most popular pizzas, according to Eric, is the “18-inch supreme pizzas. Hand-toss the dough, and stretch it real thin. Italian sausage, green peppers, black olives, onions and pepperoni.”

It comes out with a crunchy, thin crust. That, in tandem with the sweet sauce and savory toppings, is top-notch.

Their pastas are killer too.

“Sriracha shrimp alfredo is a contender for those of our spicy-loving viewers,” Eric told us.

But it’s not just food that will draw you in.

“There wasn’t much stuff around here for kids to do,” he said.

And so an arcade was born.

“It’s a perfect combination. The kids can play. Mom and dad can watch the game and have a beer. It’s perfect,” Sarah said.

Our photographer, Carter, and I tried our hand at some of the games…ya know…for research purposes.

Just like many who frequent contenders, we left full and ready for a nap!

“We’ve always joked that we should have cots in the back, because they leave pretty full and miserable every time. That’s the hard facts. That’s what we do,” Sarah said.

Contenders can seat teams after their games and can fill your stomach with so much more than just pizza.

About the Author

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.

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