Eugene’s in Glasgow

Pictured with their 2015 Montana Mint Pizza Championship Bracket trophy, Sam, left, and Jeff Knodel are still cranking out the state’s top pizza every day at Eugene’s in Glasgow.

Montana Mint

On any given night, the crowd at Eugene’s Pizza in Glasgow is large enough to fill the parking lots of three adjacent businesses.

Loaded pies fly nonstop off the bricks of the oven, while floury discs of dough twirl toward the ceiling of the dining room, providing dinner and a show. At the center of it all are brothers and co-owners Sam and Jeff Knodel.

A northeastern Montana staple for more than 50 years, Eugene’s is looking for a repeat of its savory 2015 championship crown in the Montana Mint Pizza Bracket Championship. The Montana Mint Pizza Championship Bracket pits 60 pizza places from across the state in a three-round fan vote to determine the best in Montana. New this year, one spot in the Sweet 16 is reserved for the winner of a write-in ballot.

Eugene’s 2015 victory over pizza heavyweights such as Howard’s and Moose’s may have come as a surprise to some in the state, but the fact remains: if you’ve been there, you know.

“We really appreciated the Mint doing the contest,” Sam said. “It seems like we have people stopping in just to try it now because they heard about it through (last year’s contest).”

“Especially a lot of people wanting to have it shipped across the state,” Jeff said.

The Knodels said they saw a definite uptick in traffic after the excitement of last spring’s pizza bracket, and were overnighting pizzas well into April. They had T-shirts made proclaiming “Eugene’s Pizza, Voted Montana’s Best!”, and the trophy the Mint awarded them proudly overlooks the pizza making station.

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Eugene’s Championship T-Shirts

Eugene’s championship T-shirts.

So what’s the big deal? Eugene’s thin cracker crust, premium ingredients and house-made sauces are the secret they believe sets them apart from other Montana pizzerias. According to Jeff, very little has changed in the restaurant over the years, and that’s the way they prefer it.

When asked about mounting a re-election campaign in an already-exhausting election year, the Eugene’s crew seemed confident in the will of the voters. As of yet there are no plans to stage debates, or to name a pizza “The Trump.” No gimmicks, just great food.

A winning recipe of hometown tradition, consistent quality and a devoted following (some die-hard fans eat there every day) could be the keys to back-to-back Eugene’s titles.

“I think our fans are the most loyal fans that are out there,” said Sam. “We have lots of followers and lots and lots of repeat customers. There’s just no other pizza like this.”

Montana Mint pizza bracket championship details

You can vote for your first-round picks until Sunday at 10 p.m. The bracket includes 60 Montana pizza places, including No. 1 seeds Howard’s Pizza in Great Falls, Me Too Pizza in Culbertson, Moose’s in Kalispell, and defending champion Eugene’s Pizza of Glasgow. The rest of the rankings were determined by the total votes received in last year’s competition.

If your favorite pizza joint is missing, there is a write-in spot in the first round. The restaurant with the most write-in votes will move onto the Sweet Sixteen.

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Bracket

Here are the pizza places that made this year's bracket:

Pepperoni Division

Eugenes (Glasgow)

Pizza Co (Red Lodge)

Iron Star Pizza Company (Big Timber)

Pit Stop (Lincoln)

Bridge Pizza (Missoula)

Pizza Baron (Great Falls)

Airport Inn (Miles City)

The Betsy (Townsend)

Pizza Café (Ronan)

Red Necks (Laurel)

Trubys (Columbia Falls)

Broadway Café (Butte)

**Fan Vote is in the Pepperoni Division

Sausage Division

Howards (Great Falls)

Ponderosa (Scobey)

Little Big Men (Lewistown)

Rosa’s Pizza (Bozeman)

Powder Keg (Fairview)

Gust-Haufs (Glendive)

Mama Stellas (Miles City)

Gallicanos (Anaconda)

Heiser’s Bar (Baker)

Trimbos (Butte)

Damasco’s (Belgrade)

Cowboy Troys (Victor)

Alibi (Shelby)

Papa T’s (Dillon)

Kodiak Jax (Stevensville)

Bambinos (Polson)

Bacon Division

Mooses (Kalispell)

MacKenzie River Pizza (Everywhere)

Friday Night Pizza (Phillipsburg)

Biga Pizza (Missoula)

Guidos (Billings)

Pit Stop (Ennis)

Bob’s (Virginia City)

Tarantinos (Billings)

Higherground Brewery (Hamilton)

Blue Moon Bakery (Big Sky)

Young Guns (Libby)

Jane Doughs (Joliet)

3 Brothers (Hardin)

Miners (Cooke City)

Gil’s Goods (Livingston)

Del’s Bar (Somers)

Extra Cheese Division

Me Too Pizza (Culbertson)

Nalivkas (Havre)

Tower Pizza (Missoula)

Stageline (Great Falls)

Vu Villa Pizza (Butte)

Monte Carlo Pizza (Glendive)

Pie Guys (Billings)

Gushers (West Yellowstone)

Angela’s (Kalispell)

Leaning Tower of Pizza (Basin)

Bum Steer (Flaxville)

Blackbird Kitchen (Bozeman)

Latitude 48 (Whitefish)

Red Dog Saloon & Pizza (Libby)

Cornerstone Pizza (St. Ignatius)

Poor Henry’s Bar (Clinton)

This story was originally published on The Montana Mint

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