Monday, September 3, 2012

Blazing a Trail for Pizza

Blaze Pizza
4255 Campus Drive #A120
Irvine, CA 92612

The restaurant business is really funny. Someone has an idea, and within a couple of months that idea gets copied, and then copied again. I am not sure who came up with the idea of a build your own pizza place, but they seem to be popping up with great regularity all of a sudden. Spin Pizza is one of these concepts. They are a pizza chain from Kansas City, that will be started out here by Hof's Hut honcho, Craig Hoffman. He plans too open before the year is out, if everything goes right. Another assembly line pizza place opened up right by Cal State Fullerton, Pie-ology. We have not been yet, but most people on-line really like it. Now enter a third contestant for your fast casual pizza dollar, Blaze Pizza.

Blaze Pizza just opened up about a month ago. We were going to go to the media preview party, but we had a scheduling conflict. We put it on our list of places to try and waited for the perfect opportunity to go. That perfect opportunity came up on a recent Sunday, when we went to watch our friend Rachel play soccer for the Anteaters. We needed a place to eat nearby, and Blaze Pizza was right around the corner.

Blaze Pizza was founded by pretzel people, Elise and Rick Wetzel. The same people who brought you Wetzel's Pretzel's to almost every mall in the US, have teamed up with Executive Chef, Bradford Kent to open this quick service pizza restaurant. Ordering is done at the counter, where you have the option of building your own pizza creation or you can take the easy way out and just go for one of their signature pizzas.

We got to Blaze Pizza at about 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Since school has not started yet, I thought it was going to be pretty dead, but the restaurant and the entire center had plenty of people roaming about on this lazy Sunday. Blaze Pizza is dominated by the color orange, which is a real attention grabber. I was watching people when they first walked in, and they were real standoffish about ordering. It took people about three to four minutes to decide what they wanted, which is understandable at this new eatery. It did back the line up a little bit.

Here are a few shots of the assembly line process that goes on at Blaze Pizza. As each customer orders, their pizza dough is flattened, sauce of their choice added, along with the toppings they choose. At the end of the process, the pizza is put into a large oven and baked for 180 seconds at 800 degrees. Sorry I failed to get a picture of the oven. I was done snapping pictures, it was now time to eat.

Okay, guess I still have to take pictures of the food. Starting us off is Blaze's Caesar Salad ($3.50). This prepackaged salad was just okay. The lettuce was fresh, the dressing was pretty good, but there were too many croutons on this salad, with most of them losing their crunch due to the moisture of the greens. I could tell that this was a fresh salad, but they should really keep the croutons separate.

Of course I have been talking up the fact that you can build your own pizza masterpiece here, but neither Katie or I built our own. We both went the signature pizza route. True to form, I opted for the Meat Eater ($6.85). This pizza came with pepperoni, crumbled meatballs, red onion, mozzarella, and red sauce. The crust here is thin. It did a great job of holding the toppings, and did have a slight chew to it. They did not overload this pizza with toppings. The meats were all pretty good, but I would have liked just a little more on this pie. The sauce was fine, but again, there was not much of it on here. The thing I noticed most about this pizza was the lack of grease. Not really any, which made this a very light tasting pizza.

Katie's pizza could not have been anymore different from mine. She had a modified version of their White Top Pizza ($6.85). This sauceless pizza usually comes with bacon, but she substituted the swine for sliced tomatoes. A trade off I would never make. Anyways, this pizza came with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, chopped garlic, arugula, and oregano. Katie thought the cheese was melted nicely, and that the pizza had a nice mellow flavor. She liked the sliced tomatoes on this, but will opt to cut out the arugula on her subsequent visits.

I liked Blaze, but was not blown away by anything we had here. I think this concept will definitely flourish at this location. Students love pizza and inexpensive food, and the prices here are pretty good. Time is also an important factor for students, and at Blaze Pizza you walk in, and five minutes later you are eating your pizza creation. The pizzas are better than anything you can get a chain pizza place, (Pizza Hut, Domino's, or Little Caesars). The toppings are fresh, the dough is really good, and the concept seems to be spreading. Blaze Pizza might have a winner on its hands.

Out of five rocking horses, (because in 1962, toy maker Mattel introduced the world to its version of a rocking horse, which they called Blaze), five being best to zero being worst, Blaze Pizza gets 3 rocking horses.

For more information on Blaze Pizza, click here:

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. There's another place like this in Anaheim that just opened up as well, The Pizza Press. It's right down the street from me, a few miles. I'll be checking it out soon.

  2. Cody - Thanks for the heads up about Pizza Press. Let me know how you like it after you go. Thanks for reading the blog!