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Chain Reaction: Round Table Pizza's New Artisan Flatbreads

Since there isn't a Round Table Pizza anywhere near Slice Headquarters, we asked San Francisco correspondent David Kover to check out one of their new menu items.—The Mgmt

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[Photographs: David Kover]

Round Table Pizza

Location reviewed: 4523 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94112 (map); roundtablepizza.com
Style reviewed: "Artisan Flatbread"
Oven type: Gas-fired conveyor belt
The skinny: They're pitching these as gourmet toppings on a thinner, crispier crust. Yes on the crust. Not so much on the toppings.
Price: Individual flatbread, $6; large, $12

Those of you who live near a branch of Round Table Pizza (which is probably quite a few, since there are 500-plus stores in the Western U.S.) may have noticed the signs hyping their new "Artisan Flatbreads". If the signs were to be believed, these flatbreads would feature gourmet toppings and a lighter, crisper crust. While it's a little hard to ignore the incongruity of a massive franchise-chain advertising anything they sell as artisan, I decided to overlook the semantics and see how well Round Table delivered on its promises.

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Sure enough, these flatbreads are a heck of a lot thinner than a typical pie at Round Table. The crust is about a quarter-inch thick with not much rise anywhere. On first look, I was expecting cracker-pizza. But actually, the flatbreads were tender to the bite. The crispness of the undercrust varied, with some slices standing straight out when held from the edge, and others performing a slow droop. This appeared to be largely contingent on the amount of oil that had leaked through to the base of the pizza. That said, I found these flatbreads to be uniformly less of an oil-slick than other Round Table pizzas I've tried—it wasn't just a thin crust that made these flatbreads feel lighter.

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Three different Artisan Flatbreads are available: Chicken and Roasted Vegetables, Tomato Pesto, and Pepperoni Artisan. All are sauceless and got a sprinkling of fresh shredded basil after they came out of the oven, which was a nice touch.

My favorite of the bunch was the Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Flatbread (pictured above). Though the chicken was a bit gummy, they'd managed to keep it moist, and the vegetables actually looked roasted. The pie was topped with canned black olives, but then, I wasn't really expecting imported Kalamatas.

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I got stuck on flavor of the pesto on the Tomato Pesto Flatbread. The neon-green squiggles didn't look like any pesto I'd had before, and the stuff seemed strangely tangy. When I asked for more details, I was told it was ranch-pesto. It wasn't really my thing, but ranch-fanatics may disagree. Along with the cheese, some rather pale tomatoes had been added to this flatbread before it went into the oven.

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I assumed that the Pepperoni Artisan Flatbread would be the easy crowd-pleaser, but as Adam discovered while reviewing Costco pizza, sometimes cheap pepperoni can lead us astray. The combination of the pepperoni and a generous shower of granulated Parmesan made for a concoction so powerfully salty that it left me feeling as if I'd been socked in the mouth.

The many ills of the toppings on this pizza might have been mitigated by a slather of tomato sauce, but these sauceless flatbreads didn't have that luxury. Though Round Table delivered on its promise of a pizza that's lighter and crisper than their typical offering, these new pies could use a little work.

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