If you can get past the erroneous apostrophe in its tagline (Fast Fire’d) – which has proven difficult for some of my grammar-loving friends – then Blaze Pizza is worth a try. Think Chipotle meets pizza. It’s pretty good pizza, pretty fast, and a great place to stop in for a workday lunch or a casual dinner on the weekend with family or friends. When you enter the establishment, located on the corner of Coldwater and Coliseum, you’ll likely be met with a fairly long line; this is okay because it moves quickly and gives you time to decide what you’d like. There are a handful of signature pizzas to choose from, or you can BYO (build your own). The original crust is really thin, so if you like yours a bit thicker, you can opt for High-Rise Dough, which means they will add more dough. There is also a gluten-free crust option.
Once you make it to the front of the line, you order your pizza much like you order at Chipotle or Subway: the team behind the counter works as an assembly line and sends your pizza down, adding toppings as it goes. Then, the pizza is fed into a large brick oven pizza, and a few minutes later, voila!
In addition to pizzas, Blaze serves simple salads and some fun drinks and desserts. Here are some highlights from the menu.
Red Vine: Ovalini mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, red sauce and olive oil drizzle – I have ordered this pizza on more than one occasion and every time I do I tell myself that I won’t eat the whole thing, and then I do because it’s just so darn good. The red sauce has a sweetness to it that complements the basil and Parmesan. The freshness of all of the ingredients really shines through too, and I especially like the crunch of the hand-made original thin crust.
Green Stripe: Pesto drizzle over grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, chopped garlic, mozzarella and arugula – While this one might not be your best option if you pop in during the workday (unless you’ve packed some extra gum to combat your inevitable garlic breath) it is a delicious combination of flavors. It had me at pesto, but the grilled chicken, roasted red peppers and arugula knock it out of the park.
Art Lover: Artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic and red sauce dollops – Call me an art lover! One bite of this pizza and I was hooked. It’s simple in its execution but delivers on flavor in a big way. Again, the sweet red sauce is one of the stars of the show. I was leery of artichokes on pizza, as they tend to be kind of watery, but that was not the case with this pizza. The artichokes are roasted to a nice consistency.
Kale & Quinoa: Kale, red quinoa, dried cranberries and citrus vinaigrette – There is nothing fancy about this salad, as the category “Simple Salads” implies, but all of the ingredients taste fresh and blend well. I like the sweet and tangy combination of the cranberries and citrus vinaigrette. When I ordered this salad, the kale was tender, unlike some kale I’ve encountered that is a bit woody and/or full of stems, and paired well with the texture of the quinoa.
Aguas Frescas – Blaze offers a few flavors of Aguas Frescas, a drink made with fruit and water – like juice but lighter and without the high fructose corn syrup. I love these drinks. I have made them at home for years, but the Blaze versions are highly addicting, and at less than 100 calories per serving, they aren’t that bad for you compared to other high-sugar drinks.
S’more Pie: Melted milk chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched between two large rounds of McVitie’s biscuits – I am a big fan of all things s’more, and this dessert does not disappoint. The milk chocolate and marshmallow are pre-melted and then warmed in the oven for a minute or so. The McVitie’s biscuits are softer and thicker than the standard graham cracker, making it a fine stand-in for the old standby. It’s the perfect end to a delicious meal.
While Blaze Pizza is a chain with over 150 locations nationwide, its commitment to fresh ingredients and artisanal pizzas makes it a great addition to the Fort Wayne foodscape. Prices are reasonable, ranging from $5.55 for the Simple Pie up to $8.45 for more complex Signature Pizzas. Salads range in price from $3.95 for a side salad to $7.25 for a full-size version, making Blaze a great value for the money.