Pizza for lunch is always a gamble. You can go ahead and order one if you know when you’re going to eat, but you have a whole pizza to deal with if you don’t have others to share with. If you go get a slice at a restaurant, it may be single-serve, but you can’t be guaranteed how long that pizza has been out there. There’s always buffets like CiCi’s and Stevi B’s, but it’s hard to claim that baked potato pizza or such are quality crafted machinations; it might be hard to find an employee pouring their heart and soul into a mass-consumption disc of cheese and meats.
Does the name “Rick Wetzel” mean anything to you? That last name should stand out; he’s the co-founder and president of Wetzel’s Pretzels. Accompanied by his wife Elise, the pair have branched out from the snack food and have crafted Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizzas.
The concept? Take any number of “prepare while you order” places, such as Subway or Moe’s, and change the dish to pizza. Order your pie from the listed selections (or customize one), and after two minutes in an oven, you’ll have a fresh pizza ready.
The first store will be opened in Irvine, California in August. Looking to franchise, it faces some competition in the country; Mod Pizza in Washington, Uncle Maddio’s in Georgia, and 800 Degrees and Pieology, also in California. Having eaten at an Uncle Maddio’s, it’s an interesting concept that should hopefully improve from competition.
What could be improved? The pricing is around $5 for a cheese, and nearly $7 for a normal pizza, at the 11-inch size. Near that price, you can get unlimited pizza at one of the buffets, or a Hot-N-Ready from Little Caeser’s, all ready in a larger size with pepperoni, for the price of a small cheese. Obviously, here comes the challenge of quality versus quantity. At the end of the day (or your lunch break), pizza is pizza, but that’s comparing a McDonalds to Five Guys; one may be cheaper and quicker, but the other is fresh and undeniably a better-tasting meal.
For the price, Blaze Pizza appears to make it worth your money. Meats range from grilled chicken and applewood bacon to classics such as Italian sausage and pepperoni. You can have the traditional mozzarella or parmesan cheese, or have Gorgonzola, ricotta, or even vegan cheese. Stick with mushrooms and olives if you want, or try artichokes and zucchini. You can also pour classic “red sauce”, pesto, or BBQ on a traditional crust or a gluten-free one.
Personally, I would go for Gorgonzola, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, all on pesto sauce. I’d also go for a pack of mints.
If you’re not up for a pizza (or the two-minute wait for an 800 degree oven), Blaze additionally will sell salads, featuring many of the same ingredients as the pizzas. For desert, you have one option: “s’more pie”.
There’s no description or image for s’more pie. It doesn’t take too much to guess; it’s likely to be a graham cracker pie crust with chocolate and marshmallows in it. Something else would likely top or keep the dish together, as the above can be made with a few minutes of assembly after purchasing three pre-made ingredients at the grocery store.
Executive Chef Bradford Kent is behind the dishes, particularly focusing on the crust that will go under most of the dishes. Kent is also the owner of Olio Pizzeria & Café, and while he started just to help craft the menu, he joined as a partner.
There must be something special with Blaze Pizza; it’s taken a competitor pizza chef and made him one of their own, and they’ve received backing from people such as Maria Shriver, a movie producer, and the co-owner of the Boston Red Sox.
If they hit the southeast, I’ll be sure to try them. Until then, it’s Uncle Maddio’s in Atlanta. Until then, the latest one to open was in Pasadena in the middle of October.