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Daily Slice: Zia Gourmet Pizza, San Diego
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Zia Gourmet Pizza may have the most unique approach to pizza toppings I've ever seen. Cream cheese, walnuts, capers, and even caramelized pears make an appearance on the menu, with no traditional toppings like pepperoni or sausage in sight. Zia's signature Eggplant Pizza ($3.50) is no exception; it's topped with seasoned oven-roasted eggplant, tomatoes, scallions, fresh garlic, mozzarella, cranberries, and dollops of yogurt sauce.
The end result is a slice outside the realm of traditional pizza. Sure, there's tomato and cheese on it, but the similarities end there. The primary duty of the cheese is to hold all of the toppings in place. The tomato is overwhelmed by spiced eggplant, cranberries, and yogurt sauce, but the end result is a nicely balanced savory/sweet taste that defies all traditional labels*.
The crust is also unusual. Baked using whole wheat flour and "plenty of herbs and spices", according to owner Khleed Waleh, it's crisp and thin, with a good crumb. The texture is more like warm toasted bread without much chewiness, but it makes an appropriate base for their brand of pies.
*A vegan version is also available, with rosemary potatoes standing in for the cheese and yogurt sauce.