“Not New York. Not Neapolitan. California,” Jim Leff declares. The alpha hound is describing the surprisingly wonderful Zpizza in the Village. But as a survivor of years of Chowhound pizza wars, he’s also taking on purists who refuse to admit decent pizza can come from a chain operation that promises “healthy” food and offers choices like Thai, Santa Fe, and “Berkeley Vegan.”

“Lots of California-ish precious-sounding toppings,” Jim notes, “but with a flair for balance and some pain taken in sourcing … especially at the price, which is super fair.” The ’shroom pie, for example, features unexpectedly good mushrooms and sweet, carefully cooked onions. That vegan option has crumbled veggie burger, zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and an unidentified cheese substitute (“luscious on its own terms,” Jim says, “though it would disappoint if you were hoping for something cheesy”). Intriguing-looking “Rustica” pies—on crisp, oblong crusts—include pear-Gorgonzola, Moroccan (feta, roasted eggplant, caramelized onion), and curry chicken with yam. “The problem with raving about pizza,” Jim adds, “is that there are so many parameters and everyone has their own idiosyncratic preferences, so if you recommend oranges, and somebody prefers apples, there’s no way they’re going to like it. But if you can open up and NOT look for tons of cheesy-gooey goodness, or for a delicate, subtle, Neapolitan experience … I think you’ll agree that this is a surprisingly good place.”

At least some New Yorkers may be buying in. Another location of Zpizza is in the works in the East Village.

Zpizza [Greenwich Village]
298 Bleecker Street (between Seventh Avenue South and Grove Street), Manhattan
212-206-7433

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