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EAT A MEATLESS PIZZA

For vegetarians and people who keep kosher, the idea of ordering a pizza topped with anything other than vegetables is pretty much unheard of.

That is, unless they pay a visit to Southfield’s Jerusalem Pizza, located at 10 Mile and Southfield. This carryout pizza place caters to those who don’t eat meat by topping its pizzas with soy-based meat alternatives, made to resemble ground beef, ham and even pepperoni.

To really appreciate why Jerusalem Pizza is unusual, you have to know a few things about kosher food. For example, keeping kosher means never mixing meats and dairy. It’s not just the foods that must stay separate – there also needs to be a separate set of utensils and processing machinery for meat and dairy. So much for traditional cheese and pepperoni, but the soy-based toppings take care of that.

"This is a place everybody can eat at and feel comfortable," says co-owner Soril Sharon. The incredibly clean restaurant, which recently received a 100 percent rating on a health inspection, offers more than 20 unusual specialty pizzas such as Chicken Dijon (cheese, Dijon mustard, vegetarian chicken, onions and olive oil), Falafel (cheese, sauce or tahini, falafel, tomato, green pepper and olive oil) and Stroganoff, made with sour cream and vegetarian ground beef. Customers are also invited to create their own, says Aryeh Sharon, who runs the pizzeria with his wife.

The Sharons have searched far and wide to find their pizza toppings. The vegetarian ground beef, pepperoni and ham hail from a Vancouver company called Yves Veggie Cuisine, and the chicken and meatballs are delivered from Mon Cuisine Natural Choice in New York. Even the crab and salmon are kosher.

To ensure that Jerusalem Pizza’s food is kosher, the restaurant is under the supervision of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit. Two or three times a day, the local Mashgiach (the word means "to watch over") visits the restaurant to inspect the food and preparation.

This is not the Sharons’ first experience as pizza slingers. For nearly 18 years, they ran a host of pizza parlors in Virginia. When the family relocated here a few years ago, they realized a vegetarian and kosher pizzeria would go over great with metro Detroit’s large Jewish and Muslim population.

And it has. Wednesdays are pizza days at some local Jewish schools, and Jerusalem Pizza is the official pizzeria. They even cater bar mitzvahs and other Jewish celebrations.

As for delivery, well, Jerusalem Pizza delivers clear across the country. One couple in Pennsylvania orders a couple of pies each month, and the cooked pizzas are shipped express, securely taped up with trademark blue-and-white packing tape to deter hungry airport workers.

Just don’t expect to get a pizza during the Jewish Sabbath. Jerusalem Pizza acknowledges Sabbath by closing at 3 p.m. on Fridays and reopening after sundown on Saturdays. Even in the summer, when the sun isn’t down until later, the crew comes in to take orders until midnight.

And if the idea of a vegetarian pepperoni pizza doesn’t interest you, there is always Aryeh Sharon’s newest creation – a dessert pizza made with apples and cinnamon.

TREATS

Take your parents to see retro crooners Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell at Andiamo Italia (7096 E. 14 Mile, Warren) this Wed., Feb. 23, through Fri., Feb. 25. Tickets are $35.95 each, call 810-268-3200. ... Gourmet treats abound online at www.spicehunter.com. Find Tellicherry peppercorns, dried exotic mushrooms, whole vanilla beans and much more.

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