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Pizza is his artistic palette

Laguna Beach’s favorite gourmet pizza has gone international.

ZPizza, started by owner and Laguna native Sid Faranof in 1986, has expanded to an 89-shop chain nationwide with 300 more under way, and opened its first overseas franchise in Saudi Arabia last month. Another location in Dubai is scheduled to open soon.

A leader in health and eco-friendliness, Faranof attributes the chain’s success to quality and health-conscious ingredients, artistic flavor combinations and friendly prices.

“People love the taste and can feel good about eating it too, and that’s why they keep coming back,” he said.

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Dubbed the 2008 Pizza Chain of the Year by Pizza Marketing Quarterly, ZPizza has grown in popularity all over the country, including in New York City — home of the American pizza — where it received the prestigious award.

Faranof said the 22 signature-style pies are made with 100% certified-organic crushed tomatoes, whole-wheat crust, rBST-free cheese made with low-fat milk, organic vegetables and other toppings, and then baked upon stones in brick ovens.

The secret, he said, is in the freshly made dough and crushed tomatoes.

“I’m a purist. These tomatoes have so much flavor, you don’t need to add anything else,” he said.

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The chain recently launched a rustica line of thin-crust pies with unique toppings like pear and Gorgonzola, and chicken curry and yam, and also offers creative calzones, sandwiches and salads.

“Unlike most pizza places, we’re not about delivery and speed,” he said.

“We don’t make it faster, we make it better.

“Each pizza is a hand-made piece of art, which is something you’ll only find in a place like Laguna.”

With an eco-friendly policy that requires the use of recyclable pizza boxes, napkins and to-go packaging, as well as other compostable containers, ZPizza was also one of the first restaurants to open a “green certified” location.

Faranof said he hopes to see more franchises open across Western Europe in the near future.

“We’re starting to make our footprint on the planet, and we’re pretty proud of that.”



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