Is this America’s best fast-food pizza?
Show Caption Hide Caption Is this America ‘s best fast-food pizza ?
Blaze is the Chipotle of pizza. Elizabeth Keatinge has more. Buzz60 The scene: Blaze international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate barely another pizzeria — according to Business Insider, it is the fastest-growing restaurant chain in U.S. history, thanks to an appealing recipe and a-list investors. Launched by the collapse of the Wetzel Pretzel chain, early backers included NBA ace LeBron James, Maria Shriver and Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner. It seems they were onto something — since its introduction seven years ago, Blaze has added more than 250 locations in about 40 states, and just expanded into the Middle East. This move is bringing impertinently made, fast, customized pizza that are better than your regular fast food to much of America. The minor number of states left off the Blaze map skew towards less populous, such as Maine, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming. The setup is modeled on bespoke fabrication credit line eateries like Chipotle, and in fact, many business analysts have called Blaze the “ Chipotle of Pizza, ” but it is more directly similar to 800 Degrees Pizza ( presently rebranding as 800° Woodfired Kitchen Pizza + Rotisserie ), a little chain ( Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Japan, Middle East and coming soon to New York City ) that great american Bites profiled previously. Great American Bites: Philadelphia ‘s pilgrimage-worthy pizzeria The model is childlike but elegant and sits between fast food and fast casual. You club at a counter where you select your crust stylus, then the nascent pizza moves down the argumentation with you, as you select sauces, cheeses, other toppings, and if you want, salad. At the end of the process the pizza goes into a very high temperature oven where it cooks in about three minutes and your name is called to pick it up. There is no table service, but the restaurants have more of a sit-down feel with courteous tables of heavy wood, a roomy café-like atmosphere, homelike painted murals, and self-serve stands with condiments and to-go boxes since the one-size-fits-all individual pizza are a bite much for most customers. Reason to visit: Mix and match toppings, dense crust option. The food: The best things about Blaze are the endless diverseness options, better quality ingredients, custom-built nature of the pies, and the fabulously friendly and well-trained staff that makes eating here a feel-good experience. The first question the staff asks every visitor is whether you have eaten here ahead, in ordain to better explain how it works. The pizza is clearly better than the national chains with which Blaze competes, and despite the juicy oven, flames and sparse crust, do not mistake this for the nowadays trendy, epicure, Neapolitan-style, brick-oven pizza experience that has swept the country in holocene years. You don ’ thyroxine go to Blaze for great pizza, you go for full pizza that ’ s better than other fast food options at a fair price. The independent consequence hera is pizza, with nine pre-selected signature options, including kernel Lovers, Veg Out, BBQ Chicken and then on, and any of these can be modified, in fact you are strongly encouraged to do so. then there are one top, two top and the BYO ( build your own ) options, and one of the very singular things about Blaze is that about all of the pizza are one price. With BYO, you can choose as many toppings as you want, in truth, and there are a stagger array to choose from, many of which are normally considered “ premium. ” This makes dining here an exercise in restraint or excess depending on your personality, and you could come countless times without repeating the permutations. The sauce options entirely are bewildering, including basic and piquant tomato, white cream, two kinds of pesto, barbecue, olive oil, ranch, Buffalo and balsamic glaze. There are eight tall mallow choices, 17 vegetable toppings and seven proteins. The kind of options includes some in truth nice and far-out choices such as turkey meatballs in accession to regular ones, roasted solid garlic cloves and chopped ( this is one of my darling extras, adding a abstruse, richer but milder garlic relish ), fresh ovalini mozzarella and the common shred, and therefore on. No early fast-food pizza target is going to serve you fresh mozzarella, capricorn or gorgonzola tall mallow, Applewood smoked bacon, artichokes and pesto, all for no extra cathexis. There is even a gluten-free crust choice and vegan “ cheese. ”
The identical thin crust combined with the hot, flying cook gives equitable a touch of flavorful char ( the attention to detail is incredible and there is a person who merely inspects the bottom of each pie out of the oven to avoid excess char ). There is a bang-up freshness to the final result, but the crust itself is a moment bland. In general, I find the toppings superior to the crust, specially standouts like meatballs, banana peppers, roasted garlic and more creative cheeses, though I would stay away from the chicken, cut into a little cube and fairly tasteless. On my second inflict I opt for the thick “ gamey raise dough ” option, which is on the menu but not prominently advertised, and in three trips I merely see one early person ordain it. You can tell, because due to the slenderly longer cook clock, it is partially cooked on a black metallic mesh topology tray to keep the bottom form burn. While clearly less popular, this is a great clandestine weapon at Blaze. I prefer the slurred crust, which has a little more message and a light doughy chewiness evocative of hot-from-the-oven roils, without being besides thick or overpowering. It is well worth the small surcharge ( less than a dollar ). More: America ‘s pizza capitals Salads are composed in the same fashion as the pizza as you walk down the line, and once again you are encouraged to mix, match and even blend dressings and toppings. I wouldn ’ thyroxine go here rigorously for the salads, but again, they are fresh and better than you will get at competitors, and nicely loaded with toppings — my Caesar has punishment of cheese and crunchy croutons. Blaze has fountain soft drinks, a well as some customs lemonades and agua frescas in bubblers, some bottled beer ( which may vary by location ), and a very limited dessert menu. The matchless that jumps out for creativity is a second ’ mores sandwich, which comes pre-stacked with the choice of heating up at home, or eating fresh and warm after a quick dip in the pizza oven. It ’ s a great estimate, but unfortunately these look better than they taste, chiefly due to an leftover option of swapping the traditional graham crackers for scots McVitie ’ randomness brand biscuits, a fail upgrade that just doesn ’ t taste right and ultimately disappoints. That said, I come away with massive respect for Blaze, and I love the way the place works — the attention to detail throughout, the perplex staff, the toppings, and the best pizza you are going to get five minutes after pulling into a suburban strip promenade parking lot in most of the area. Pilgrimage-worthy?: No, but if you want pizza on a road trip in most of the state, you won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate do better. Rating: Mmmm ( Scale : Blah, OK, Mmmm, Yum !, OMG ! ) Price: $ – $ $ ( $ cheap, $ $ moderate, $ $ $ expensive )
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Details: More than 250 locations in 80 % of the USA – and growing fast ; blazepizza.com Larry Olmsted has been writing about food and travel for more than 15 years. An avid eater and fudge, he has attended fudge classes in Italy, judged a barbecue contest and once dined with Julia Child. Follow him on Twitter, @ TravelFoodGuy, and if there ‘s a alone american restaurant you think he should visit, send him an electronic mail at travel @ usatoday.com. Some of the venues reviewed by this column provided complimentary services .