Doughnuts make you fat
Celery makes you skinny
Pizza makes you smile
I’m not really sure when the hell I first memorized the above haiku, but it’s one of the truest statements I’ve ever encountered. When it comes to pizza, the question isn’t “What’s so great about pizza?” It’s “What’s NOT great about pizza?” It’s one of those foods that’s primarily an experience rather than a simple source of sustenance. Ever try to agree on pizza toppings with 3 or more people? There you go. Pizza may be a common staple of the American diet, but it involves much more emotional investment than a simple sandwich or bullshit salad. Ok, I’m done with my Herman Cain moment (not the sexual harassment part though).
Blaze Pizza (which has officially been open all of 4 days) is the newest offering from the folks behind Wetzel’s Pretzels, sandwiched by Berkeley Dog and Lee’s Sandwiches in Irvine’s University Town Center. It’s another one of those “Let’s take this food item and Chipotle-it the fuck up!” concepts. So basically patrons can custom-create their own pies down an assembly line of “artisan” ingredients, most of which are no extra charge. Pizzas are then fired in an 800° oven for two minutes. A simple cheese pie costs $5, and either a signature pizza or a custom pie with toppings starts at $6.85. Why $6.85? Why not $6.95? Or $7? That’s a rant for another time. But still, price-wise, pretty decent.
As with most of these new “Build-your-own-slow-death” restaurants, fast is not gonna happen. With only about 5 people ahead of us before placing our order, we waited a good 8-10 minutes in line, which makes me shudder at the thought of this place during the lunch rush. This was mainly due to people who waited until they were at the front to make any sort of decisions because, as you know, people are the worst. Anyway, the assembly workers taking your order are friendly and helpful, spinning and topping your pie with quickness and care. It then gets placed in the oven by a guy with a giant paddle (he must be popular at frat parties) and is ready for your consumption shortly after. I went with the White Top signature pizza, while my friend went the custom route.
The White Top is a sauceless oval of delight. A fat-laden dream within a dream, topped with ricotta, mozzarella, fresh chopped garlic, oregano, smoked bacon, and fresh arugula (added after the pizza is baked). The flavors are a bit more acidic than other pizzas, as the tang of the cheeses and garlic clash with the smokiness of the bacon and oregano, but the bite of the arugula cuts through the tartness of it all, allowing the fattiness of many ingredients to shine through beautifully. Their crust is magnificent. Thin, chewy yet firm, just great. The base tomato sauce used on the custom order was applied sparingly, which could be seen as a strength if only it had more flavor than just tomato puree and salt. The freshness of the ingredients used however (sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni) really speak to the high level of quality they strive for. Artisan indeed.
Blaze also offers some salads as well as a single dessert option in the form of the S’more Pie, which is like the high class call girl version of a s’more. Despite having the name of a jock lifeguard from the 90s, Blaze Pizza has some fantastic offerings, and no matter how long the wait, I guarantee you’ll leave with a smile.
Mile-High Club First-Class Business Economy
Check ‘em out at:
4255 Campus Drive, Suite A120
Irvine, CA 92612
Photography by Eunice Lee