Attendees reportedly paid as much as $75 for cold, bite-sized slices and cheap red wine. Now New York's Attorney General is investigating.
Photo from the pizza festival courtesy of Syl Wia via Facebook
The New York City Pizza Festival sounded like a knockout. The day-long event boasted "an eclectic tasting of the best pizza in NYC," a "celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces, and delicious toppings" we all know and love—even an anonymous taste-test to settle, once and for all, New York and Chicago's storied battle over who makes a better slice. By Saturday, when the event went down, more than 30,000 people had planned on showing up.
But those who popped by didn't find themselves in a doughy wonderland. Instead, Gothamist reports, they wound up in pizza hell.
After paying up to $75 for VIP tickets to the festival, attendees reportedly waited in an hour-long line for access to a "shady parking lot" in Brooklyn. Instead of a mountain of slices from the city's finest eateries, they were handed cold, microscopic slivers on hors d'oeuvres-sized plates. The tents set up for a horde of vendors were empty.
"It was like the people from Fyre Festival decided to throw a pizza party," attendee Connell Burke told Gothamist. "I spent $150 total for the two tickets. There's three pop-up tents to my left, one where they're taking cold pizzas out of delivery boxes and cutting them... They're small, tiny little slivers of pizza."
Hundreds of miffed pizza fanatics railed against the festival's organizers on Facebook and demanded their money back, prompting New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—the state's highest-ranking law enforcement officer, as Eater points out—to open an investigation into what went down. A spokesman for the office told NBC New York it was "concerned about the online complaints" from festivalgoers, asking them to file official complaints detailing their bummer of a Saturday.
Meanwhile, the wannabe Billy McFarland behind the pizza festival still hasn't offered the folks who came through a refund.
"This is bullshit!" one attendee wrote on Facebook. "The fact that my friend and I spent 55 dollars each for such a shitty event like this unbelievable! All we got was warm red wine that tasted like ass!"
It's not the first time Ishmael Osekre, the event's organizer, has ticked off a bunch of foodies. At last year's NYC African Food Festival, hundreds of Yelp heads found themselves in a literal greenhouse on a 90-degree August day, boiling in the heat as they scarfed down handfuls of food from about ten vendors—a far cry from the 24 plus rising-star chefs the event promised, Gothamist reports.
The pizza festival apologized for Saturday's shit show and promised to host a make-up tasting, but a number of folks really just want their money back.
"You're absolutely fucking mad if you think nothing is going to be done about this," one attendee wrote on the festival's Facebook page. "I want a fucking refund, not an explanation."
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