The way dozens of yard signs promoting "The Pure One" line a path up to the new Clintonville Z Pizza shop, you'd think Z Pizza was an idealist running for office. If so, after eating several top-notch pies there, I could easily vote for Z.

The way dozens of yard signs promoting "The Pure One" line a path up to the new Clintonville Z Pizza shop, you'd think Z Pizza was an idealist running for office. If so, after eating several top-notch pies there, I could easily vote for Z.

Z Pizza is a locally franchised business with California roots and an ethos similar to California Pizza Kitchen. Like CPK, Z specializes in uncommon and even world-beat toppings (you can get Mexican, Greek, Moroccan, Thai and French-style pies here). And like Z's Short North brother, this Clintonville Z distinguishes itself with an emphasis on healthy and organic-leaning products that deliver great flavors.

Ambiance-wise, the Clintonville Z doesn't offer much. There's three beers on tap (including the suddenly mandatory Yuengling), inoffensive rock and roll, coffee-shop-bright lights, a few tables and little else. So yeah, you can eat in if you want (bonus: several flavors of rapidly ready slices are always available for $2.75), but this Z seems oriented to pick-up and delivery service (its beat covers an impressive amount of ground).

Menu-wise, there are some sandwiches and salads (like a pretty good arugula with walnuts, caramelized onions and parmesan shards, $6), but I mostly stuck to the place's namesake specialty. As with all upper-tier pizzas, these must and do succeed with terrific crusts.

Plus, at Z, you can opt for the standard crust (made with certified organic flour, it's rich enough yet far from greasy), the brilliant whole wheat variety (my choice, and as good as this style gets) or a gluten-free model (untried). Both crust models I did try were wonderful - thin and crispy and flaunting an attractive hint of char.

Here's a taste of some of Z's many pizzas (they range from about $10 for a feeds-one-to-two small and rise to $21 for a party-sized extra large):

Pepperoni: Z advertises a proprietary pepperoni that has no preservatives, MSG or nitrites and is reduced in fat - but you couldn't tell that from its convincing texture and full pepperoni flavor.

Chicken Sausage Rustica: "Rusticas" are feeds-two oval pies, and this juicy, cilantro-flavored, healthy-ish chicken sausage fleshed out with arugula, good sauce and undetectably lower in fat mozzarella was a real winner.

Thai: A little sweet, a little salty and a little spicy, it had a hoisin-y peanut sauce, big clumps of righteous chicken, cilantro, scallions, plus bean sprouts and carrot sticks.

Berkeley Vegan: I liked its fresh and lively veggies, and its Morningstar-like clumps of fake meat were OK, but if the vegan cheese tasted vaguely mozzarella-ish, its texture was akin to molten plastic.

ZBQ: Barbecue-sauced pizzas aren't usually my thing, but if I were to eat another one, again, I'd vote for Z and this messy but good-tasting pizza with that nice chicken plus Southwesterny veggies.