Article appeared May 10, 2012
View on Arizona Daily Star site
Article appeared in the March 2012 issue pp. 44-45
Renee Kreager, owner of Renee's Organic Oven located at 7065 East Tanque Verde Road, pulls a small pie of the "Old Town Classic" pizza from the oven. Half of the pizza qualifies as 700 calories or less. Some local restaurants are offering dishes that are 700 calories or less as part of a county-led healthy living grant.
March 2012 Arizona Daily Star. View on Arizona Daily Star site.
"They opened a restaurant that reflected their food philosophy." pp. 52-53
By Barry Infuso
Photography by Thomas Veneklasen • Photo Assistant Gabriela Robles-Ibarra
This Excerpt featuring Eclectic Pizza is from the full article Pizza in Tucson: Can you Top This? Picking the Perfect Pizza.
When Renée and Steve Kreager came up with the idea of opening a pizza shop next to the Eclectic Café, they knew they were a match made in pizza heaven. Steven worked for years in the pizza business and Renée had gleaned much customer service and management knowledge as a server at Eclectic Café.
The walls of the restaurant are painted tomato sauce red, though Renée assured me that she showed the painter a piece of salmon sashimi and not pizza sauce to indicate her color preference. The room has comfortable table and chair seating and a few see-and-be-seen tables.
As for the food, their mission was one of excellence and “green” practices, so they wash dishes by hand and use biodegradable “to-go” containers. In the kitchen, they use fresh and organic to their best effort and never trans-fats, MSG or hydrogenated oil. You'll find everything from locally grown tomatoes to Arbuckle's Organic Fair Trade Coffee. You can even find organic beer and wine on this eclectic menu. In a word, the pizza is outstanding and I was impressed to see a gluten-free version on the menu.
Eclectic's thin, crisp crusts are still substantial enough to stand up to their hearty, abundant toppings. I encourage you to try their Old Town, made with tomato and basil. I loved it!
The Mediterranean offers hummus in lieu of pizza sauce and is topped with a salad of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. The latest addition to their ever-evolving pizza menu pairs red potatoes with rosemary.
Check out the giant cookies at the counter. I'll bet you find them hard to resist.
You'll find plenty of fresh, organic variety at this pizza joint
by Rita Connelly
Eclectic Pizza is a neighborhood restaurant in a most upscale neighborhood. Located in a well-established strip mall on the corner of Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon roads, this tiny pizza joint certainly reflects its surroundings. The décor is stylish; the menu offers modern versions of old Italian standbys; the clientele is a mix of well-off retired folks and young up-and-comers.
Like the nearby Eclectic Café, which has a partnership with the pizzeria, Eclectic Pizza features a down-home feel with a sincere commitment to delicious, fresh fare (the dough and pizza sauce, and some of the pastas and vegetables, are organic), super-friendly service and reasonable prices.
Our first visit was on a Thursday night. Most of the tiny tables--we counted seven inside and three outside--were occupied, and a steady flow of takeout customers kept the kitchen busy.
Our earnest young server was at the table within seconds, checking to see if we'd like glasses of water while we perused the menu. Water is a tight commodity these days, and many places don't bother with it unless you ask. This was a nice touch.
Upon his return, we ordered from the small but serviceable wine/beer list. John had a Moretti beer ($4.50), and I ordered a glass of chianti ($5.50). We also ordered the spinach-artichoke dip ($7) for starters.
The drinks were brought to the table with dispatch, but we had to wait a while for the dip. In the interim, we ordered entrées. John ordered an 8-inch pepperoni ($6 plus 60 cents for the topping). Choices of toppings are numerous and include anchovies, two types of chicken, sausage, pineapple, ham, zucchini, two kinds of olives, several types of peppers (including jalapenos) and cheeses including Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta, in addition to quite a few more items.
I ordered a dinner special--a choice of pasta (in this case, meat lasagna) and the pepper salad ($15). Separately, before 4 p.m., the cost would've been $10 for the lasagna and $7 for the salad. (There is also a lunch special between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; you can get a slice of cheese pizza and a soda for $4; it's 25 cents for extra toppings.)
The wait for the dip was worth it. Cream cheese, lots of spinach, artichokes and garlic were baked until the mix was hot and gooey, and the whole thing was served with a pile of lightly toasted French bread. We dug in, and it was delicious (though we did add a sprinkle of parmesan to round out the flavors). There wasn't a drop left.
The salad came next. This dish exemplifies the philosophy at Eclectic Pizza: The salad was unique, pleasing to the eye and outstandingly fresh. A well-balanced balsamic vinaigrette was served on the side. The dark green of the spinach and basil set off the bright red and yellow of the roasted peppers. Like the colors, the flavors blended perfectly; the freshness of the spinach and the sweet smokiness of the peppers were tops.
Next came the pizza. This is really the children's portion of pizza; Eclectic Pizza is totally kid-friendly. Not only is there a nice children's menu, but there are plenty of quiet activities such as coloring and games, to keep the kids busy during the wait for their dinner.
We both munched on the pizza while I waited for my lasagna. We could really taste the freshness, especially in the house sauce. The dough was light yet had a nice bite to it. And there were numerous pepperoni slices on top.
The lasagna arrived steaming hot, accompanied by two large pieces of garlic bread. Meatballs and hunks of sausage were layered between pasta and a mass of tasty ricotta filling. All of it was topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. While it might have benefited from a few more minutes in the oven, the lasagna was delicious.
We asked for home-baked chocolate-chip cookies ($2.50 for two), but none were available. Nor were the other choices (oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip with walnuts); we didn't want to wait the required 15 minutes. But we were so full that it didn't really matter.
We returned for lunch the following Saturday, which also proved to be a pleasant experience.
We had discussed the colors of the wall on our first visit. Were they reds or oranges? With the light of day, we decided: oranges. An eclectic mix of light fixtures hung from tracks, and brightly colored art--also quite eclectic--hung on the walls. A comfy chair, where you can wait for your pizza to go, sits in the corner.
This time, John ordered a meatball sub ($6.25), and I ordered one of the "Eclectic Pizzas." There is an international touch to this side of the menu, featuring everything from a Thai red curry pie to a Mid-East pie to chicken-n-chorizo. I opted for the 12-inch Old Town Classic ($13), which comes with fresh organic tomatoes, basil, garlic and mozzarella.
John also ordered a soda ($1.10). On the family end, certain sodas are available in two-liter bottles for $2.20.
Our eyes were certainly bigger than our stomachs. The crusty roll for John's sandwich was full of tender meatballs and totally smothered in sauce and mozzarella. He compared it to the ones he used to eat in New York (especially since there were so many meatballs in the sandwich).
The ingredients on the pizza were an ideal combo, and oh so fresh! The delicious ingredients topped a tender crust. Fresh was definitely the word of the day. The only drawback was that my pizza arrived well ahead of John's sandwich.
Eclectic Pizza is easily accessible, offers plenty of health-conscious food at reasonable prices and is devoted to quality service. They also deliver; check their Web site www.eclecticpizza.com for the boundaries and menu. A neighborhood couldn't ask for anything more.
2009 Staff pick
Maintaining a gluten-free diet may be one of the most challenging things one can do, food-wise. Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance reluctantly learn to give up a lot of familiar comfort foods. Although enjoyable gluten-free alternatives to many foods are available, truly fine pizza has never been one of them. Fortunately, this is beginning to change, as Eclectic Pizza has an extensive gluten-free menu. (They also use lots of organic ingredients.) Although they offer many specialty pies, in the world of gluten-free, it's always going to be about the crust, which is delightfully thin and crispy. In fact, the pizzas here are so tasty that even New York- and Chicago-pizza snobs will enjoy them.
3 local chefs create nutritious recipes exclusively for Tucson Home readers.