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Pizzerias Get Called Out Over Dave Portnoy Food Festival

The Barstool Sports founder punches back

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Annual Charity Day Hosted by BGC Group and The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund
Controversy magnet Dave Portnoy’s food festival has come under fire online.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

A journalist lit up the pizza community on Wednesday on asking why New Jersey pizzerias would associate with One Bite Pizza Festival, hosted by “a person as regularly abhorrent” as Barstool Sports’s David Portnoy. The author of the piece is calling for the restaurants to drop out of the festival that’s slated for September 23 in Coney Island.

As he’s done in the past, Portnoy punched back online with personal attacks. In response, his followers are harassing the reporter, while others are demanding a boycott of the festival, the pizzerias involved, and sponsors like the New York Wine and Food Festival, Chewy, Uber Eats, and Coca-Cola.

Portnoy is the founder of the sports site Barstool Sports, and the creator of One Bite Pizza Reviews — in which he takes a single bite of pizza and gives it a one to 10 ranking. With an X/Twitter feed of 2.9 million followers and a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers, Portnoy’s reviews can change the trajectory of a pizzeria much like a restaurant review from a national critic. Each video can garner around two million views, such as the classic Joe’s Pizza, or the impossible-to-get-into Lucali’s. The result for pizzerias can be long lines, more customers, and increased profits in a notoriously tight-margin industry.

Portnoy was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct in a November 2021 and a February 2022 report by Business Insider. Two of the women were 19 and 20 at the time, with one texting a friend afterward, “It was so rough I felt like I was being raped,” the publication reported. Others accused Portnoy of filming them during sex without consent. Yet another claimed Portnoy broke her ribs during sex.

In response, Portnoy claimed it was a “‘hit piece’ that was part of a ‘witch hunt’ led by the forces that had been coming after him for a decade.” Portnoy brought a defamation suit against the publication that a judge dismissed last November.

Most recently, Portnoy fought with a Massachusetts pizzeria owner who was then flooded with one-star online reviews and faced threats after Portnoy went on Tucker Carlson’s Twitter show and goaded his audience. “When you throw the first punch, I want to bury you,” Portnoy said. He made merch about it. His fans continue to threaten the restaurant.

In the years since the #MeToo movement began, restaurants and other businesses have become more hesitant to partner with someone saddled by this much controversy. In Portnoy’s case, it seems they’re all in: He has landed sponsorships from big businesses; photos with celebrities like family-friendly Phil Rosenthal of Somebody Feed Phil; and festival partnerships with NYC pizza royalty like Lucali.

2023 South Beach Wine And Food Festival
Dave Portnoy with Phil Rosenthal at a 2023 food festival.
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

More than 30 of the pizzerias Portnoy rated are slated to participate in the inaugural One Bite Pizza Festival in Brooklyn. In addition to Lucali, local participating pizzerias include John’s of Bleecker Street, DiFara, Patsy’s, Ace’s, Andrew Bellucci’s, Made in New York, Artichoke, Denino’s, and Prince Street Pizza (with its own history of racism) as well as Jersey shops like Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza in Elizabeth and Brooklyn Square Pizza in Jackson. There are an expected 5,000 spots available for the all-you-can-eat pizza festival, according to a spokesperson.

Portnoy has embraced disturbing behavior that goes back at least a decade. Some examples include a 2010 blog post in which Portnoy said some women “deserve to be raped” and videos of him saying the N-word.

Now journalist Jeremy Schneider is on the receiving end. In his blog post on Tuesday, Portnoy wrote,

This guy wants pizzerias to back out on their commitment to do this event days before it’s going to happen. After we’ve literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. . . .Then what does he expect to happen if pizza places drop out? I’ll just happily let them go on their way? Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not worried about places dropping because I have close relationships with almost all of them and they love me. But imagine if I didn’t?

Portnoy also gets personal in attacking Schneider.

Or maybe I would point out how this clown has been obsessed with me since 2013. 2013!!! Just seeing me everywhere he went because he has like a Fatal Attraction syndrome with me. How he can’t stop thinking about how successful I am and what a failure he is.

Online commenters like “food antagonist” Joe Rosenthal have called for boycotts of the festivals and the restaurants, posting on Instagram, “The Participants and Sponsors of Dave Portnoy’s One Bite Fest Enable His Harm,” listing the pizzerias and sponsors, including Polar Seltzer, Coca-Cola, and more.

Eater reached out to a Portnoy spokesperson as well as participating pizzerias like DiFara and Lucali, who, at the time of publication, had not responded.