Monday, December 15, 2014

Restaurant Review: Blaze Pizza

Since going gluten-free three years ago, I have found substitutions for almost every food that I loved in its previous form. One exception has been pizza. I make cauliflower crust pizza all the time, and I buy the Udi's crusts on occasion, but I have missed ordering pizza in a restaurant like all the other girls. In other words, I'm seriously deprived, so when Blaze Pizza contacted me with pizza coupons and I saw gluten-free crust on the menu, I was elated and ready to chow down.

Blaze introduces a unique and fun concept - for one price, you get an 11-inch individual pizza with all the toppings you like. Think of it as the pizza version of Chipotle or Subway, except there are no additional costs for adding on more extras. After you've customized your pie with your favorites, the chefs fire your pizza in a blazing oven for 180 seconds until it's piping hot and crispy. For me, the individual size and selections are the perfect way to enjoy pizza. Each diner gets exactly what he or she wants and while sharing is always an option, the personal pan size means that you can convince your friends that it's all yours.

Jeff and I headed to the brand new Meridian location on Saturday night around 6:00 p.m. and were impressed to find the place completely packed. Families with cheese pizza lovers, young couples on double dates, and resident foodies filled the tables while I eyeballed their selections. The place smelled amazing and I couldn't wait to place my order. All of the crusts were being pressed to order, and the gluten-free option was made on a different machine. As soon as we ordered, our server asked about any allergies so she could make sure to alert the assembly line. The next step was to select toppings, or in my case, cover mine with almost everything. I topped my pizza with red sauce, fresh and grated mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Italian sausage, black and kalamata olives, caramelized onions, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a pesto drizzle. Jeff chose one of Blaze's signature pizzas, the Meat Eater with pepperoni, crumbled meatballs, red onion, mozzarella, and red sauce. We also selected local craft beers and two salads - a classic Caesar and a roasted veggie with Gorgonzola. 

The pizzas are served on brown paper and a silver pan and the salads and drinks are located in a refrigerator case by the cash register. After grabbing a table and Parmesan and red pepper flakes, we dug in. I was in heaven - the dough was chewy and crispy, the pizza was hot, delightfully saucy, and all of my toppings complemented each other perfectly. Our salads were cold and fresh, though I would have benefited from a bowl or plate instead of eating out of the plastic container. The environment was loud and lively, not exactly a romantic date spot, but a great place to grab a bite and take in the atmosphere. I tried my hardest to finish my pie but fell two slices short, so to the to go containers I went. The boxes, which come in half and full sizes, are made of eco-friendly materials, like many of the other items found in the restaurants.

Our Blaze experience was excellent, and we'll definitely be back. The gluten-free crust rocked my world and everything we ate was delicious. I love the concept and the price point, which makes Blaze accessible to every diner. I highly recommend checking out the Blaze Pizza in your area!