Monday, August 10, 2015

Blaze Pizza - It's a Game Changer

I know this is off topic for a reality TV blog, but this is too good not to share. I finally got a chance to try Blaze Pizza, a new create-your-own fast pizza place. Think Subway or Chipotle, but with the best food ever - pizza!

Last night, I ventured out to try Blaze Pizza. The concept is this - you get on line and you watch as the first employee uses a machine to flatten out perfectly portioned personal pizzas. As he makes the dough, you travel to a greeter, who asks your name, which he writes down, and what kind of pizza you'd like. I believe there are three pricing tiers - plain, one topping and create your own (or the fancy ones they have pre-listed). You choose your basic option (like saying Art Lovers, which features artichokes and ricotta, or Create Your Own) and travel to the next station. Don't be afraid to choose a pre-planned flavor; you can always customize after that.

Your pizza dough is loaded onto the paper on which the greeter writes your name. You slide over to the sauce station, where you can choose from a few options, including a red sauce, a spicy red sauce and some kind of cream sauce. Next up is cheese, which includes ovalini mozzarella, regular mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta, goat cheese and feta.

Next up are the meats, which I was told are good - the person I went with had a buffalo chicken type pizza - but I skipped over those in favor of veggie toppings, including artichokes, kalamata olives, mushrooms and basil. I then accepted the employee's offer of sea salt and seasoning on top. The pizza, which is given a number on a metal stand that matches the number written on your paper sheet, goes into an open oven. You get to actually watch as your pizza gets cooked! I paid, then chatted with the friendly staff as the pizza was heated (the sign says it takes 180 seconds, which seemed about right) and stared with excitement as my pizza was removed from the oven. I opted for a pesto drizzle and arugula on top, and took my pizza on a tray to eat in store. You can also choose a to go box, if you prefer.

So how was it?

At this point, it's judgment time. The pizza looked amazing, but would it taste good? The answer is yes, it was AWESOME. With a price point just under $8, I got as many toppings as I wanted, which was amazing, and the taste was absolutely perfect. The thin crust was right up my alley, the sauce was delicious and the cheese and toppings were great. The employees were very generous with toppings; I could taste them in almost every bite.

The only concern was that the store was out of certain toppings, but because the store is new, I can see that happening. They haven't yet mastered the supply and demand that will be coming through. I think that will clear up with time. Also, I think a topping they should add is sundried tomatoes - they don't have that one at all.

Some additional notes:

For those with diet restrictions, I believe there was gluten free pizza dough and vegan cheese available. That's a great option for those who need it! Plus, you can see the calorie counts for what you're ordering, so if you can decide how healthy or indulgent you want to be for your meal. There also appeared to be salad options, but I didn't look much at those because I was there for the pizza.

If you do the math on this pizza versus ordering a traditional pie, this wins hands down. I've paid upwards of $16 for a large pie with sauce, fresh mozzarella and one topping elsewhere, so this actually comes out to be less expensive, given the extensive amounts of toppings I chose. Plus, a group can go together and get what they want. There's no need to compromise about who likes mushrooms and who likes pepperoni. And, if you eat a small snack beforehand, this pizza can last you for at least two meals.

The organization of the store was top notch. The employees were communicating well, everyone looked professional, and the team worked well together, even though things were chaotic since they'd only recently opened. The one person I spoke to most at the pizza baking station was so nice and friendly. He had great customer service skills. The staff was generally young, but whoever did the hiring did great, because all the employees were nice, kind people.

Last thing - you can order this pizza online and pick it up. Bonus points for convenience!

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