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Food & Drink

Calorie-counting zpizza delivers pies almost worthy of its marketing

Photo: Veronica Luna, License: N/A

Veronica Luna

An offer you can’t refuse: the Italian from zpizza.

There are pizzas that aren't serious contenders for nutritional crowns and some that (almost) are. Zpizza, a chain arising from arugula-hugging Laguna Beach, Calif., contends that theirs is "the pure one," with ingredients that are "natural or certified organic." Leaving aside what "natural" means, they offer regular or wheat crusts (in the "Rustica" pizzas) and post calorie counts beside each selection. To date, I have consumed approximately 1,358 calories during the course of two visits — plus an amazing 450 calories worth of a salad one might automatically think to be more virtuous than pizza. More on that later.

The oblong Rustica pizzas, shaped like a circular dining table pulled apart for holiday guests, come in only one size and, we are told, with a "crispier, crunchier crust." Not so — at least not by the time I got it home from the neatly designed outlet on Sonterra. (The center also houses Auden's Kitchen, Choicolate, Kumori, and more.) My curry chicken and yam model did admittedly smell enticing all the way, but when finally tasted was quite a disappointment. The ingredients were spotty, a daubed-on mango chutney was too sweet, the lumps of curry-powdered chicken weren't impressive, the cubed yam (more likely sweet potato) would have worked better shaved, or at least better distributed. In short, healthier perhaps, but tastier? Nope. Maybe the pear and gorgonzola with fresh thyme would have been a better choice. Or the Moroccan with eggplant.

Hope springing eternal in the new year, I returned to try slices from a display case that had four pizzas on offer, selecting the Italian and the Casablanca over a plain cheese and a pepperoni. The crusts on both of these were actually almost crunchy, if that could become a criterion, and tasted wheaty — if that is understandable. The Italian had a touch of sweetness, whether from the basil pesto, the ham, or the fresh tomatoes; its black olives were tolerable and plentiful; the artichoke hearts were as indifferent as they always are. But the whole package, including a generous amount of "award-winning mozzarella from grass-fed Wisconsin cows," seemed worth its posted calorie count.

Casablanca suffered in comparison to the intrigue of the place and the movie, but the roasted garlic sauce, subbing for tomato paste, was indeed mellow, and the ricotta, parmesan, and fresh mushrooms made for good companions. As for the artichoke hearts, again yawn. A little fiery Moroccan harissa might not have been unwelcome, but overall, not bad. Other choices include Thai with peanut sauce, spicy chicken, bean sprouts, and more, and Santa Fe with what you'd expect, right down to the chipotle pesto, chicken sausage, serranos, and corn. A little much, in other words.

But said salad surprised. It seemed appropriate to pick the arugula version with shaved parmesan, candied walnuts, caramelized onion, and balsamic vinaigrette, and the only thing worth quibbling

700 E Sonterra, Ste 1103
(210) 402-1500

The Skinny
California pizza chain plugging healthy and organic pizzas, salads, and sandwiches, and delivering on at least some of it.

Best bets
Arugula salad, potluck pizza by the slice, maybe a Moroccan Rustica pizza with eggplant.

Mon-Thurs 11-9; Fri-Sun 11-9:30

Pizzas $7.25-$10.50, salads $5.95-$8.95, sandwiches $5.95-$6.95

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