Have pizza, but without the guilt

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Have pizza, but without the guilt

A passion for really good pizza is fueling a tasty trend in pies more closely related to the slices served in Italy. Rustic, wood-burning ovens imported from the old country are adding just the right char to crusts made with flour flown in from Italy, too.

The line forms early for lunch and dinner at Antico Pizza Napoletana and, as soon as it runs out of dough, it stops serving pizzas. Some places, such as Varasano’s Pizzeria, roll really thin crusts made with sourdough.

Fritti promises pizza made according to rules of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association.

Franco’s Italian Tavern in Roswell offers a choice of razor thin or thicker New York-style pizza crusts.

But the most notable common thread in these “way better than delivery pizza” places is the use of high-quality toppings, including San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto cotto, fresh broccoli rabe and white anchovies.

Dietitian Marie Spano of Spano Sports Nutrition Counseling in Atlanta loves the focus on authentic flavors, even if a meal of dough, cheese and meats is a splurge. And she said, “Dive in and enjoy!

If you are watching your waistline, make pizza a special night out. For dieters, I believe in having a smaller portion of the real thing than a larger portion of low-fat, not-as-tasty food.”

With health in mind

-- Think thin: A large slice of thin crust pizza has about 100 fewer calories than thick.

-- Avoid pan pizza: Besides extra calories from the thick crusts, oil is often added to the deep dish pans to make sure the dough doesn’t stick.

-- Choose whole-grain pizza crust, if available, for extra fiber.

-- Avoid cheese-stuffed crusts, which add up to 250 calories per slice.

-- Avoid ordering extra cheese. Ask for “light” on the cheese.

-- Toppings with minimal calories and maximum nutrition: onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, roasted red bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, basil, artichoke hearts, arugula, eggplant and spinach. A sprinkling of black olives, while heart-healthy, adds 15 calories.

Antica Pizza’s Verdura — which means vegetable in Italian — is topped with broccoli rabe, tomatoes and mushrooms.

-- Choose lean meats: chicken, shrimp, ham or Canadian bacon.

-- Start with a green salad and limit to two large slices of pizza.

“The thin crust automatically saves calories, but it’s still not a good idea to finish the whole pie. Split a pizza with your friends,” Atlanta dietitian Marisa Moore said. “These authentic, thin crust pizzas don’t reheat so well as leftovers anyway.”

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” Email her at carolyn@carolyn .oneil.com.

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