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February 27, 2013

Eco-friendly pizza at Fusion in midtown

When I order pizza I’m usually concerned about what size and toppings to get, not what the pizza box is made of – and certainly not whether the employees are wearing 100 percent organic cotton eco-apparel.

But for the socially conscious, environmentally friendly pizza connoisseurs out there (and maybe for the rest of us who ought to be) there’s Pizza Fusion.

Located on Metropolitan Avenue in midtown, this quick casual chain has sprinkled its earth-friendly, organic-heavy mission statement on top of a multigrain pizza crust. And thankfully, it hasn’t compromised on taste to do so.

Before you get all fired up wondering whether the pizza is New York style, Old World style or any other style that’s most familiar to you, hold up. Pizza Fusion serves fast food pies. What’s that mean? The pizzas are cooked as they slowly roll through an oven on a conveyor belt. I’ve seen similar setups at sub sandwich shops.

In this age of 650-plus-degree pizza ovens and restaurateurs who spend hours developing just the right dough, cooking pizza on a conveyor belt is downright sacrilege. But how about we judge the product for what it is?

To start with, there’s the founder’s pie with free range chicken, kalamata olives, roasted red onions, tomato sauce, gorgonzola, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan ($10/$18/$25 for personal, large and extra large).

The menu suggests putting this all on a multi-grain crust, and I swear it was difficult for me to order it that way because I have never said “pizza” and “multi-grain crust” in the same sentence. But I’m really glad I did because the dough had an earthy character that complemented the rest of the pizza’s assertive flavors. And it didn’t have the chewiness I’m used to with other pizza dough.

I actually got more chew from the organic dough I opted for with the spinach and artichoke ($8/$17/$22) pizza. The crust actually had very little flavor, but the blend of spinach, artichokes, tomato, garlic and cheeses was a hit.

After the founder’s pie, the best thing I ate was the portobello grill sandwich ($9). A marinated portobello mushroom joined roasted bell peppers, mozzarella and pesto between foccacia bread. The bread was crisp on the bottom, fluffy on the inside, and the pesto had an incredibly bright, super sharp flavor. A handful of arugula greens dressed with a light oil and vinegar dressing was the perfect side. I could eat that sandwich once a week.

I would not eat the Tuscan steak salad ($7/$10) again, as the meat was dry and stringy.

All pizzas are available on gluten-free crusts. I noticed that some menu items are billed as entrees containing ingredients that promote mental acuity or help eliminate toxins. While I can not verify those claims, I can say that Pizza Fusion gave me a type of pizza experience that made me think outside of the (recycled pizza) box.

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