Meet New Bedford’s Pizza Buckaroo
New Bedford's Arnie Messini Mendes – who goes by Arnluigi Mendenelli on Facebook – has a deep-dish passion for pizza.
"About three years ago, I got the inspiration to review America's favorite food from watching Dave Portnoy's very popular one-bite pizza reviews," Mendes said.
As a fan of Portnoy's Barstool Sports, Mendes hopes one day to be as popular and liked as Portnoy.
With his genial, good-natured personality, Mendes – who holds down a full time job with a national retail company – said he has made time to travel around, and as he puts it, "make an adventure out of every trip, by reviewing the best pizza places in the state."
"A lot of people aren't aware of all the different types of pizza, from Boston's North End to here on the SouthCoast, the variety is broad," Mendes said. "People I meet on the road give the video reviews more humor and authenticity. It's so much fun."
The self-named "pizza cowboy" said he goes to review the best pizza shops dressed in style.
"They know I'm coming when they see me entering, wearing my almost-famous multicolored caballero," he said. "Every trip, people ask to take selfies or group photos."
Pizza arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, along with waves of Italian immigrants who settled primarily in the large cities of the Northeast. Boston and New York City are ranked as pizza meccas.
"The highest score I've ever given was to Regina's in the North End, but equally, I love Frank Pepe's in Warwick. The Lynwood Cafe in Randolph makes some of the greatest bar-style pizzas," Mendes said.
"I only order cheese or pepperoni. If a place can't get a pepperoni or cheese pizza right, forget about it," he said.
Are happy trails ahead for the critic?
"I'm going to have a busy schedule, trying other bar-style places, and less famous pizza places," Mendes said. "I've been to pretty much the legendary ones. I've probably eaten over 300 whole pizzas in the last three years!"
He said he'd move heaven and earth to do this full time and nothing else.
"I just love getting in the car and driving an hour or two. It's part of the adventure," he said.