When I first heard of Blaze Pizza, I could only think of one thing…
The idea was a crazy one when Kramer first suggested, so how did Blaze figure it out?
Well they were smart enough to realize that you can’t have people stretching the dough and putting their hands in the oven. Blaze opted for a model much more like Chipotle; a line-order service where customers can pick the sauce, cheese, and toppings they want. They keep it simple with some suggested combinations, but also allow you to modify to your own creativity for no additional cost. At $7.95 for an 11″ pizza it’s actually a decent deal.
On entering the Blaze Pizza in Fremont, CA, I was surprised to see a long line.
There were about 20 people ahead of us, so I dreaded that the grumble in my stomach was going to unleash my hangry before we got a pizza. But I was surprised by how quickly the line was moving. Within 10 minutes we were almost to the front and I realized I hadn’t really looked at the menu.
I opt to keep things simple with their Red Vine (i.e. margherita).
The first question I had was, how are they stretching the dough so quickly? I’ve churned through prepping 45 pizzas in an hour once, but I couldn’t keep up that pace for multiple hours.
As I get to the front of the line, I see a dough press. Well sure that will make things easier. On closer inspection, I realized its a heated dough press. At 275F, it provides a low amount of heat to dry the outer dough. This allows them to quickly stretch the dough and keep it on a tray for an extended period. So the team has a backlog of 10 opened dough balls ready and waiting. I forgot to capture a shot of the dough press, but it looked something like this:
Now on to the toppings. As you saw from the menu the options were plentiful. But I’m a simple man. Give me a tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil to keep me happy (and I won’t ever say no to mushrooms).
It really reminded me of Chipotle. Point at what you want and step to your right. 1 person for sauce; 1 person for cheese; 1 person for toppings.
A quick trip to the oven results in what looks like a surprisingly amazing pizza. The ovalini mozzarella melted beautifully, which people know is an important thing for me. As expected, the crust didn’t get much of a rise, due to the heated dough press.
Check out the photos below for a full set of pictures, but I have to say I was impressed. It had the thinness of a Neapolitan pizza but each bite had a loud crunch to it. Wow, that was a new experience. I would have preferred a slightly softer crust, but I still enjoyed it. I had opted for the spicy tomato sauce and it was spicy. A bit more than a hint, but a bit less than painful. The cheese stayed soft and didn’t rubberize too much. The basil was put on before entering the oven so it was a dark forest green, which while delicious was a little lackluster of a presentation.
Overall I have to say that Blaze met and exceeded my expectations. World class pizza – no. But a quick pizza fix – absolutely.