Pizza from A to Z

Features Inside Feature

January 16, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Pizza has gotten a bad rep for being greasy fast food that’ll clog your arteries and expand your waistline. But there is no truth behind these rumors, at least not at zpizza.

Founded in 1986 by Sid Fanarof in Laguna Beach, Calif., the revolutionary pizza chain has been built around a shared passion for wholesome ingredients and unique recipes. From certified organic wheat flour used to prepare pizza dough fresh daily, to specialty products like MSG-free pepperoni, part-skim rBGH-free cheese and gluten-free and vegan options, zpizza uses only the best and highest-quality choices to craft its award-winning creations.

  • Cesar Llarenas opened Oahu's first zpizza restaurant at Ward Centre two years ago. Late last year second location opened in Kailua, where the eatery continues to serve up customer favorites such as Napoli Vegan ($12.95) and Moroccan Rustica ($12.95).
  • The Mediterranean Rustica ($12.95) comes with mozzarella, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, Greek olives, oregano and pili pili oil.
  • The Moroccan ($12.95) is one of several Rustica pizzas offered at zpizza.
  • The Chicken Sausage ($12.95) features marinara sauce, mozzarella, arugula and chicken sausage.
  • The Pear & Gorgonzola Salad ($8.50/$10.95) contains mixed greens, pears, gorgonzola cheese and candied walnuts.
  • Street Team employees Kayla Gillespie, holding the Napoli Vegan, and Kendra Rainwater, holding the Pear & Gorgonzola pizza, attempt to woo customers into zpizza's Kailua eatery.
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And it is that exact attention to tasty detail that caught Cesar Llarenas’ attention during a trip to Newport Beach several years ago.

“When I first tried the pizza, it was love at first bite,” Llarenas says. “My dream was always to own a restaurant, but I didn’t know which restaurant it was going to be. So when I tried this place in L.A. called zpizza, I said, ‘Wow, we gotta take this to Hawaii.'”

Llarenas opened Oahu’s first zpizza in 2008 in Ward Centre and, after a successful two years in business, the Hawaii franchise owner decided to expand operations to the Windward side last year.

“A lot of our customers would come from Kailua to go to Ward Centre, and they encouraged us to come over here. So when we found a location, this is the place we want to be for our second location.”

The second z’s location opened in Kailua last November in the new 151 Hekili St. building, a perfect complement to the zpizza eco-friendly lifestyle.

“This building that we were able to get into is energy efficient,” says Llarenas, noting that all of their packaging — from pizza cartons to carry-out bags — is compostible.

“We take pride in all of that,” he states. “And, you know, Kailua, they know our ingredients, and so it is a well-fit for us to be here.”

So far the top-seller on the z Kailua menu is the Napoli, a thin-crust pizza topped with homemade roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomato rounds, Parmesan and fresh basil. Also popular is the Provence, which layers organic tomato sauce, homemade roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, capers, tomatoes and fresh basil over z’s legendary fire-baked crust.

“It’s very simple but it’s very good,” Llarenas says.

Pizzas come in 10-inch small ($12.95), 14-inch large ($22.95) and 18-inch extra-large ($26.95) pie sizes as well as by the slice. Choose from one of z’s 12 signature pizza creations, or build your own from the list of never-ending ingredient combinations.

“We are a gourmet pizza place where we use a lot of premium ingredients,” Llarenas says. “For example, we have a truffle oil that we use, we use the cremini and shiitake mushrooms, we use a pili pili oil — it’s an olive oil that we mix with a hot pepper and it creates a spicy oil — and pretty much we try to buy as much local produce that we can.

“We take pride more in all the quality and all the ingredients that go in the pizza.”

In order to offer customers an even greater number of healthful choices, zpizza recently launched the Rusticas, a line of personal-sized, free-form artisan pizzas inspired by global cuisine. There’s the Chicken Curry & Yam Rustica, a blend of mozzarella, curry chicken, yams, mango chutney, raisins and cilantro that takes its cues from India; as well as the Pear & Gorgonzola Rustica, a creamy-sweet mix of mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses with fresh pear slices and thyme.

Other flavor profiles include Mediterranean (mozzarella, feta, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, Greek olives, oregano and pili pili oil); Moroccan (basil pesto, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, feta, caramelized onions and pine nuts); and Chicken Sausage (marinara sauce, mozzarella, arugula and chicken sausage).

Each Rustica will set you back $12.95 and 100 calories, the restaurant promises, but stop in now through the end of the month to take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free deal.

Also be sure to drop in on Vegan Pizza Day Jan. 29, when there will be a special vegan Napoli pizza made with vegan cheese and without Parmesan.

“Zpizza is different because it is a lot more creative and we put in a lot of thought to make the taste better,” he says. “All in all, I think we’re more complete as a casual pizza place, focusing on a healthier fare versus just a pizza is a pizza.”


  • Where
    • Ward Centre
    • 1200 Ala Moana Boulevard
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
    • Kailua
    • 151 Hekili Street
    • Kailua, HI 96734
  • Call
    • (808) 596-0066 (Ward)
    • (808) 230-8400 (Kailua)
  • Hours
    • 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Friday – Saturday
  • Website

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