Recently, I was contacted with the offer of a couple of free pizzas to come and check out Blaze Pizza, one of the newer fast casual dining options at The Village at Meridian. Now I love the Village, and I love pizza, so this was a no-brainer. Little did I know that I would be adding Blaze to my small list of favorite pizza spots by the end of the meal.
Blaze Pizza isn’t in the core Village development, you’ll find them in one of the strips along Eagle Road. The concept is simple: you get an 11′ pie, and no matter how many toppings you choose, the price is the same. That having been said, they don’t pile them on.
These are the thin crust variety, and you work your way down the topping line (unless choosing one of the signature combos) creating your perfect personal pizza, after which the whole thing is popped into a super hot oven for three minutes, and that’s it. My only complaint about the place would be the lighting. I mean I understand wanting to create atmosphere, but considering how many people post pictures of their meals to Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Twitter…well, you get the point. I’m just surprised that restaurant designers don’t take that into account when designing lighting schemes.
|Yeah, it’s a little dark.|
Kids are a great measure of a pizza place, so I arrived with my roommate’s children in tow. Even though the Blaze model is geared towards personal pizzas, they will split them for you. So, the notoriously picky tween went with a cheese pizza (shredded mozzarella and parmesan) for her half, while her little sister chose mozzarella, pineapple and smoked ham. As for me, I was torn between two of Blaze’s signature combos, the Red Vine (ovalini mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, parmesan, basil, red sauce, olive oil drizzle) and the Link In (Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, mozzarella, red sauce), so I went with half of each. Because dinner was comped and I was feeling generous, I added a dessert for each of us.
|Pineapple and smoked ham on the left, just cheese on the right.|
Not much to say here, both kids liked their pizza (though the tween kept trying to steal pieces of ham from her sister after trying the one that landed on her half by accident), and seemed satisfied after finishing their halves.
|Red Vine on the left, Link In on the right|
As for me, I was very happy with my own pizza. I love thin crust (blame my time in NY), liked the slight outside char from the oven, the zesty red sauce, both kinds of mozzarella, the basil, the roasted red peppers, and the sausage. I even enjoyed the sautéed onions, something that’s always been kind of hit or miss with me.
As far as desserts go, you have the choice of one: the S’more Pie. They’re very proud of their ovens, so I can see wanting to focus on a dessert that takes advantage of them. And they are good, but at least on the night I was there, the execution could have been a little better. The size is perfect for one person, and the two dollar price tag isn’t unreasonable, but it’s less than ideal when you’re still working on your pizza when dessert is served if that dessert is best eaten while hot. In this case, they weren’t even that hot when they were served, as you can see from the picture above. They were warm, to be sure, but the chocolate wasn’t melty all the way through, nor was the marshmallow particularly gooey. Tasty, yes, but next time I would order them after finishing the pizzas and make sure they were thoroughly heated.
All in all, I definitely recommend this place, and will certainly be returning myself and taking more people along in the future. Even my mother, who isn’t particularly fond of red sauce and was happy to hear that there is a cream sauce available. I am looking forward to trying things like the spicy red sauce, pesto drizzle, and goat cheese. For those who care about such things, there are even gluten free crusts and vegan cheese (for an added cost). If you have the sort of group where ordering pizza is a hassle because everyone has very specific likes and dislikes, being able to get everyone their own pie for around seven bucks is a very nice option to have.
Food: Fast and flavorful, with lots of variety in toppings.
Value: Surprisingly good, especially for a Village eatery.
Service: Assembly line, but pleasant and helpful if you have questions.
Atmosphere: I would prefer it to be a little brighter given the family-friendly concept.
Final Grade: A