6307 S Miro St
New Orleans, LA 70125
Napoleon's Rating - **/*****
New Orleans eating habits have never been models of restraint, though there is a narrow window, between the indulgences of the holiday season and the onslaught of Mardi Gras, when many of us try to put things in trim. Some even pledge to make a permanent change. But changing habits is very difficult, especially when it comes to comfort foods and convenience meals - the stuff we eat because it's readily available, quick and inexpensive. Those are the very underpinnings of the take-out pizza business model, but a team of local entrepreneurs has created a new, much healthier spin on those old, reliable appeals and created an easy way for New Orleans to eat a little better.
This is NAKEDpizza, a company formed in 2006 under the original name World's Healthiest Pizza. From the beginning, the company has had a serious mission to reengineer the nation's most popular take-out food into something that is actually good for you. The fiber-loaded pizza dough is the heart of the matter. It mixes some 10 different seeds and grains, and it's further fortified with probiotics, or beneficial bacteria similar to those you get when you eat certain yogurts. It's all intended to promote digestive health and fill some gaps in the typical American nutritional equation.
I'm a big fan of the pizza itself, and you may be hearing a lot more about it in the near future thanks to a potentially massive national expansion deal the local NAKEDpizza founders have struck with billionaire investor Mark Cuban.
This is strictly a take-out restaurant, which also offers delivery. There's no place to sit and eat inside the tiny storefront just off South Claiborne Avenue.
The employees are helpful enough if you have questions about the unusual menu, and they're eager to point out the best value deals. Otherwise, it's just a phone-ahead, pick-up or delivery operation.
Breadsticks are made with the same grains- and fiber-rich dough as the pizza crust. If you're curious about this stuff, but don't want to devote an entire lunch to the exploration, these can stand in as a cheap sample of the program. The shop also makes a conventional spinach salad as a side option.
Pizza is the name of the game here. There are no sandwiches, no pastas and, except for the two items mentioned above, nothing but pizza, though these come in a few distinctive varieties.
The standard crust uses NAKEDpizza's probiotic-fortified multi-grain dough. It is dense and slightly nutty, but overall tastes like a wheat pizza dough with interesting character and soft texture. Newcomers to NAKEDpizza are often surprised to find the usual pizza parlor toppings. There's even a "meat combo" specialty pizza, including pepperoni, sausage, ground beef and ham, plus mozzarella cheese. My favorites are the "Creole Cajun throwdown," made with alligator sausage, shrimp and chicken, and the "Superbiotic," a vegetarian pie covered with artichokes, spinach, arugula, peppers, mushrooms, onion, garlic and cilantro. The health promise is all in the crust, and the familiar toppings make it a more convincing option.
There is soy cheese available, for vegans and people allergic to dairy. And there is a gluten-free crust made using wheat-free rice flour. This is essential for people who are allergic to wheat, of course, and others following a gluten-free diet. Gluten shows up in a startlingly wide array of food, and even many sauces and condiments, so a readily accessible pizza option like this is very good news for gluten-free folks. I would not recommend this to other people on the basis of taste alone, however. The texture is too chewy and powdery. More time in the oven might help. If this was actually crisped to cracker-like texture, I think it would turn out better. Still, it's good to know this is out there and ready for delivery when you have gluten-free eaters in your group. Another interesting option is their "take-n-bake" pizza, ready for your oven at home.
Bottled and canned waters and soft drinks.
Though their product is much different, the people at NAKEDpizza seem to understand that they are competing at least in part on the basis of convenience and affordability. I won't even say they're competing for value, because conventional chain pizza that is inexpensive but offers little nutrition is no bargain. Still, if NAKEDpizza is to replace the chains as the go-to convenience delivery meal, it has to be affordable. Regular printed prices are in line with pizza expectations -- $8 for a small, $11 for a large. Most specialty pizzas are around $15. But there are also lots of two-for-one deals and other coupon specials, so check out their Web site or ask what's on offer before placing an order.
I've eaten quite a few pies from NAKEDpizza, and while it is not my favorite pizza in the city I would certainly order it before any of the bland, doughy, empty products churned out by the national chains. In the end, this is a pizza that can trick the unknowing into eating a healthier meal and thrill those who are seeking better nutrition in an easy, familiar, inexpensive format.