I am definitely team pizza’s captain. It is the perfect meal. Different textures from a crispy crust, crunchy toppings and beautiful melted cheese. Change the toppings, cheese and suddenly the flavors make for a completely different experience.
A good pizza teases your senses. It should be pretty to look at with the toppings offering pops of different colors. You should be able to smell all of the different aromas. When the crust is well cooked, you can hear the crunchiness. And it has to taste just right!
Which is why Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza at The Avenues lets you build your own pizza. Blaze Pizza is fast-casual dining, at the intersection between affordable fast-food and high-end dining. You get artisanal pizza made with high-quality ingredients at a fraction of the cost. You can also get that feel from the decor. Industrial with a lot of stainless-steel juxtaposed against chairs and tables that are made of beautiful heavy wood. There is a lot of grays and blacks against some fiery reds and oranges making it feel rich but still very down-to-earth.
The dough has already been made in-house and has been proofing for the last 24 hours. Everything is precise. The dough press has been programmed to create the perfect base. And that is only the first step. My friend and I stood at the assembly line and it was my turn to pick and choose what I wanted on my pie. At Blaze Pizza, you can choose from the eight signature pizzas, tweak them, or even build your own from scratch. Brad Kent, the executive chef and “pizza whisperer” walked us through the process that day.
My friend, a vegetarian, chose the Red Vine. Classic red sauce, ovalini mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil drizzle to top it off. The quality of the Italian ovalini mozzarella is apparent as Brad squeezed the whey out of it. When he broke it into chunks, he showed us the strands in the cheese. These strands are a marked sign that you will be getting that elusive perfect melt.
While choices can be scary or liberating, I find them to be a mixture of both. So, I decided to go ahead and build my own, because, you only live once!
Brad suggested that we try the garlic pesto sauce. Next step was the cheese. I love mozzarella on my pizza, so that was an easy choice. Some ricotta because sometimes it is healthy to break the rules. Blue-cheese, feta, goat, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan and even a vegan shred option were available, but Brad told us to keep it simple. Overloading on toppings over-complicates the pizza.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian skip this part and move on, but I wanted some Italian style meatballs on my pizza. Brad told us that he had worked on tweaking the recipe and changing the spices so that they worked better with local meats and slightly spicier making it more suitable for the Middle East. Pizza is comfort food, it has to taste like home. Blaze Pizza is very big on delivering the same experience of an artisanal quality pizza. They are very rigid in their processes to make sure that happens. Every person in the process can stop it and start over to make sure that you get the perfect pizza, every time.
For the veggies, I got some eggplant and roasted red peppers. Fresh arugula, dried oregano and extra virgin olive oil finished off my pizza. That last drizzle of oil is the chef’s signature on his artwork. He has deemed it worthy. Three minutes in the huge open-fire oven and we have pizza. After about a minute and a half, Brad moved it around to make sure they are cooked even and even pokes it to make sure it doesn’t get burned. It takes skill and an eye for detail.
The crust is like nothing I have had before. It is very thin, really crispy but is still airy and chewy, like a cross between a New York pizza and an Indian Poori. The unmistakable aroma of garlic hits you first, but the olive oil keeps it from being too strong. The meatballs were spicy but not overpowering. And the ricotta was so rich and creamy. Since the pizza didn’t say long in the oven the Arugula is still bright green and crunchy. Everything is tied together nicely. The vegetarian pizza was just as good. Islands of melted cheese in a sea of delicious bright tomato sauce were a feast for the eyes and the stomach. It is a generous single-person sized pizza and very filling.
We washed it down with some lemonade. There is Original, Mint, Blood Orange and Blueberry Hibiscus. I am a huge fan of Blood Oranges but the Blueberry Hibiscus was amazing. Twangy, sweet and refreshing. The acidity and tartness is balanced nicely with the sweetness. Everything is about being “just right” at Blaze. Goldilocks should have come here in the first place.
For dessert we had two options. Brownies and s’mores! I love a good brownie, but s’mores are such a rare treat here that we had to have them. The marshmallows were golden brown and gooey, just the way they should be. It was the perfect ending to a very enjoyable meal.
We loved everything about our experience at Blaze Pizza. The next time we are at The Avenues, broke and hungry from all the shopping, Blaze Pizza will be our final stop. It is the best most-affordable pizza you can hope for.
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is located in Grand Plaza – The Avenues. For Blaze Pizza’s latest updates and news, please follow them on Instagram @BlazePizzaME.