Of the various “Chipotle-style” pizzerias, Blaze Pizza is about the only one we go to at all. And mostly it’s because of a hack Lillian came up with not long ago. The optimized Blaze One Top described below is the best we could do at Blaze.
What is Blaze Pizza?
Blaze Pizza is a chain of pizzerias that feature a cafeteria-like counter where you can pick your toppings as you walk along. You can have pretty much anything you want on your personal thin-crust pizza (therein lies one of the problems). They make their own dough fresh daily, and we think they make their own sauces (unconfirmed).
At the end of the rail, your pizza goes into a really nice looking Woodstone oven (that’s the brand name – it’s a gas oven, no wood involved) that puts flame around your pie.
The oven can get as hot as a wood-fired oven, but they don’t fire them that hot at Blaze. The website says they keep the oven floor around 600°, but that hasn’t been our experience at our local Blaze, the oven floor is kept lower (the numbers are right there on the front of the oven (below the level of the photo above).
Still, it cooks in about 3 minutes, about twice the time of a full-temp wood-fired oven. And it comes out okay. That’s why they call it Fast-Fire’d (don’t get us started on unnecessary apostrophes!)
They make their dough fresh daily. Their toppings are fresh. Their staff is well-trained and the oven guys, though young, know what they’re doing. The pizzas come out tasty, and one pie per person is about right. The prices are reasonable.
The crust lacks flavor. It doesn’t taste bad; it just doesn’t really taste. We think that’s partially due to lack of fermentation – the dough doesn’t rise long enough. Also, rather than being hand-stretched, they flatten the crust with a dough press. Among other things, it heats the dough early.
More importantly, their red sauce is way too sweet. Good tomatoes don’t need extra sugar in the sauce, but apparently the executive chef at Blaze didn’t get that memo. For a while, we would only order white pizzas at Blaze, which are quite tasty.
One more thing, on the customer side. Too many toppings kill a pizza. Yes, we’re Americans and we want to load up on everything, but pizza really is about balance, and trying to balance more that two or three toppings on a pizza is, well, do what you want.
So what’s the hack?
How do you optimize a Blaze pizza? Well first – eat in onsite. Any pizza tastes better immediately after baking, and Blaze is no exception. It’s okay to take it home, but this is about optimizing. Eat it there.
Blaze’s menu allows you to build your own, order a simple (red sauce, regular mozzarella, parmesan) pizza, or one of their ‘signature’ pies, or a ‘one-top’ (sauce, cheese and one topping) pizza. You can also order among several ‘finishes’ after the pizza comes out of the oven.
We order the one-top. So the red sauce (yes, it’s too sweet, but we’re gonna balance it!), regular, low-moisture mozzarella for the cheese, and fresh mozzarella ovalini for the topping. When it comes out of the oven, the pesto drizzle as a finish! The basil balances the sweetness of the sauce, the two cheeses together create cheese deliciousness (a tip o’ the hat to Dom DiMarco of DiFara’s in Brooklyn). The oil in the pesto serves as a typical post-bake olive oil drizzle. For an extra bit of balance, they’ll also finish with a little arugula on top of the pesto.
And there you have it. Still, as we said before, you can do what you want. Including leaving a comment below!
Blaze Pizza – all over, including Kuwait. www.blazepizza.com