Pizza Fusion: Organic Doesn't Necessarily Mean Good

Guess it's time to admit I'm just not a New Age pizza guy. I wasn't crazy about the product at Naked Pizza when I sampled it last summer, although the crust of grains, nuts, roots, and "heat-resistant probiotics" was pretty good. In retrospect, I liked Naked's pizza more than the one I tried yesterday at Pizza Fusion.

I'm speaking of the just-opened branch in the Shops at Fifth and Alton in South Beach. There was a Pizza Fusion at 148th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, but that one didn't last long. Upon first bite of the pie in this new shop, I think I know why the other one closed.

The venue is colorful and comfortable enough, with at least three television screens dangling about. Pizza Fusion is a certified organic restaurant, and many (not all) of the ingredients are organic (those that are organic get italicized on the concise menu).

Besides pizza, there are three appetizers (flatbread and dip trio; mini meatball sliders; stuffed mushrooms, $6 to $9.50); three sandwiches ($9); and five salads served in half or full portions ($6 to $7, or $10 to $11). I sampled a half of chicken bruschetta salad. The arugula, romaine, red onions, basil, garlic-heavy bruschetta mix, and crostini are organic. The free range chicken and fresh mozzarella cheese, both cut into a small dice, are not organic, but the larger problem with these two ingredients is that they are apparently refrigerated with the rest in pre-made platings -- which means the chicken and cheese are ice cold. Otherwise, it's a good salad and pretty decent deal for $7 (with a choice of dressing on the side).

And then there is the pizza. The three sizes are personal (six-inch by nine-inch); large (18-inch by 9-inch); and X-large (28" by 9"). Crust comes original organic white or multi-grain. There are lots of toppings to choose from, as well signature pizzas (barbecue chicken, Hawaiian-style, and so forth). Soy cheese is available, and for extra money so is a gluten-free crust. That's a good reason for vegans and folks with wheat allergies to come here.

I tried a personal pie with a white crust that was thin and floppy and topped with simply tomato sauce and melted mozzarella and provolone cheeses($7). The crust and cheeses were passable, but the sauce tasted overcooked -- or lousy for some other reason. The pizza seemed homemade in a primitive sense, as in a refined version of a college student's rendition: English muffin halves topped with bottled tomato sauce and melted cheese. Maybe it would be better with a whole bunch of toppings.

Pizza Fusion offers ten wines by glass/bottle ($6 to $7/$21 to $24), and 16 draft and bottled beers for $5. The brews might be the best thing going here. The ones on tap include Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale from Tampa, and Native Lager from Fort Lauderdale; the bottles are all craft.

The concept of an "earth-friendly" pizza place is great. Too bad the pizza isn't.

Pizza Fusion
1115 Fifth St., Miami Beach

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein