People often ask me how to order a healthy pizza at a restaurant. I guess in theory it's possible: lots of vegetable toppings, a sprinkling of cheese, tomato sauce, a drizzle of olive oil, and a thin crust (preferably whole wheat)—a filling meal with a variety of nutrients. As I glanced at a Bertucci's flier for their summer menu, I saw a picture of what looked like my "healthy pizza." The Giardino Pizza with roasted red and yellow peppers, grape tomatoes, and mozzarella on a whole wheat pizza crust. A hefty coupon sealed the deal and off we went. Bertucci's has a distinctive scent that pervades the dining areas and all of their entrees; it's a fresh warm aroma that probably comes from the baking bread, olive oil and lots of garlic. Although I love Bertucci's pizzas, they tend to be slicked with oil as the toppings are often sauteed in oil and sometimes finished with an extra drizzle on the surface. So I asked for less cheese and no olive oil drizzle. The waiter mentioned that the pizza was covered with pesto, which wasn't listed in the menu description, but I ok'd it since I didn't want to strip out too much flavor.
The crust was thin but unfortunately burnt black on several edges. It tasted...dry. Not chewy, not pleasantly crackly, just tough and bland. Despite trying to order less grease, the pizza still had pools of oil cratered throughout from the pesto. The vegetables looked colorful but were shiny with more oil. Overall, the pizza tasted like all their others—very very rich but nothing too memorable. I was expecting a summer pizza with a "thin whole wheat crust" to be lighter and somewhat more healthful but I didn't taste this at all. I commend Bertucci's for being one of the few Italian restaurant chains to disclose their nutrition information. It said that the Giardino Pizza has 230 calories and 6 grams fat per slice, or 910 calories and 26 grams fat for an entire individual pizza. I'm skeptical because even a small amount of oil shoots up the fat calories; I'd guess my pizza contained at least double the fat grams. I've noticed that the same menu items taste slightly different at each Bertucci's chain, likely depending on the chef and his/her interpretation of the recipe. I doubt they're measuring exact amounts of oil to cook with and that can throw off the nutritional info.
So, I'm still searching for my "healthy" great-tasting restaurant pizza. Admittedly the best one I've found is from a local Domino's that I customize with less cheese, extra vegetables and no extra oil. It tastes really fresh and doesn't leave me bloated and aching for a nap afterwards. If you've found your perfect healthier pizza, please let me know where!