by Andrew Cullen art & culture editor
Living in Chicago and ordering pizza often means eating at one of Chicago’s many deep-dish restaurants. However, not everyone likes deep-dish pizza and it can be rather expensive, especially if you include a tip. In contrast to the stereotypical Chicago pizza scene, the fast-casual California-based chain Blaze Pizza has designed an inexpensive, creative and delicious way to enjoy the famous Italian pie.
Founded in 2011, Blaze Pizza has grown rapidly and in 2015 it was named the #2 brand in the Fast Casual Top 100. What makes Blaze Pizza unique is its made-to-order approach to serving customers, which it adopted from Chipotle.
Customers can order a 12 inch thin crust pizza with unlimited toppings for just $8.45. Customers walk down an assembly line and choose whatever number and combination of toppings they want. Blaze has over 40 fresh ingredients to choose from, such as goat cheese, fresh basil, spinach, bell peppers, onions, Italian sausage, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and pineapple. Blaze also offers several all-natural, nitrate-free meats, including: pepperoni, smoked ham, Applewood bacon and salami. There is a gluten-free crust available for an additional charge. For customers with simpler tastes, Blaze offers a simple pie (i.e. cheese pizza) for just $5.00. Another way to keep costs down is load a pizza with 10 plus toppings and then split it between two people.
The pizza is then put into an 800-degree oven and cooked to perfection within a matter of minutes. The finished product tastes and looks wonderfully delicious. The crust is crunchy around the edges, but remains chewy towards the center. The toppings are fresh and warm, having been in the oven only a few minutes. Customers can add additional Parmesan cheese, olive oil, oregano, or red pepper flakes after the pizza has been cooked.
Soda, tea and lemonade are $2.25 and customers can get unlimited refills. Blaze also has salads and a s’more pie for dessert, although these do not compare in price or taste to the pizza.
Because it is a fast-casual restaurant, customers do not have to leave a tip, which helps keep the cost low. However, Blaze does have tables inside that allow customers to stick around and eat their pizza fresh out of the oven. A combination of stainless steel and reclaimed wood gives it a welcoming modern feel.
Blaze Pizza has two locations within 1.5 miles of Moody: 227 E Ontario St and 24 S Clinton St.