Our young HP consultant came in last week raving about the delicious, affordable, thin crust pizza at Blaze Pizza on Colorado Boulevard at the corner of El Molino. This young woman had the audacity to suggest that it was better than the pizza we order while sitting at the bar watching the master craftsman at Olio e Limone in Santa Barbara. We elders stifled our indignation, though our chests did puff out in silent protest, and we’re sure our, “Oh, really?” was slathered with more derision than we’d intended.
So, after a few long but enjoyable hours at the Altadena Farmers’ Market, we decide to test said consultant’s tastes and order some pizzas to go from Blaze. The evening is young at 6:15 p.m.,…
…but a line has already formed and while we furtively snap a few pics, a steady stream of customers come through the front door. We finally join the line and address a young man not on the assembly line. How does this work, we ask. What are the sauce varieties? Is your white sauce more garlicky or cheesy? Though we are interrupting his work, he smiles and answers all of our questions.
The first decision to be made is sauce or sauces? Classic red, spicy red, white cream sauce like alfredo, pesto drizzle, barbecue drizzle, and/or olive oil drizzle? We choose classic red with a swirl of white sauce on top. Selections continue through cheeses, meats, and veggies.
Cheese choices: shaved or fresh ovalini mozzarella (or join us in our decadence and get both), goat cheese, gorgonzola, ricotta, and even vegan.
Meat possibilities: pepperoni, sausage, salame, crumbled meatballs, grilled chicken, and applewood or Canadian bacon.
Vegetable goodness: roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, sauteed onions, jalapeños, pepperoncini, red peppers, arugula, fresh basil, pineapple, not just black olives but kalamata olives, mushrooms, and red onion.
Down the line, we ask, listen, and answer to no less than four young women, each one just as friendly and patient as the last. It is suggested that we not choose too many watery-type veggies as then our pizza will be soggy. This is difficult as each topping does not make the cash register ring—build your own has a set price of $7.45. But an annoying voice of reason inside our head provides restraint and we stop once we’ve accumulated sausage, spinach, red onions, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts atop our sauces and dough.
Two bowls sit at the end of the assembly line, one of which holds dried oregano, the other sea salt. Our young cohort for whom we are also building a pizza had texted, “And please have them put oregano and seesaw on it as well.” We of the over 50 crowd laugh, crowing that although the young’uns are speed demons when it comes to texting, voice-activated emails via Siri, and juggling a thousand apps, they can be overly hasty and often inaccurate. So, we smile knowing they still have so much to learn, dismissing the fact that their knowledge and ease in the tech world is already beyond anything we will ever attain.
But we digress; let us remember the priority—food. We inquire after said oregano and sea salt, to which the young woman responds, “Do it.” But just a sprinkle, slightly more than a pinch, she says. “Not too much; never let them drown it.” We defer to her judgment and later, upon consumption, we thank her (telepathically).
These made-to-order, thin crust pizzas are slid into a brick oven for a mere 2 to 3 minutes. The crust cracks like a cracker, but without the crumble. (A gluten-free crust is also available, though they are fired in the same oven, so it depends on one’s level of sensitivity whether or not this is a suitable option.)
Blaze does offer salads such as the classic Caesar and tomato, basil, and mozzarella, and a few interesting-sounding ones like beet and goat cheese, and roasted veggie and gorgonzola, but we are too focused on stomachs growling for pizza to consider the likes of a salad.
S’mores pies are “forged by fire daily,” the sign states. The one we share is pleasant tasting with crumbly graham cracker cookie bookends (not pie really) with an appropriately thin marshmallow layer and a solid, delicious slice of chocolate. It’s a bit crumbly and messy, and a bit of a miss because it’s not hot off the fire, so no roasted marshmallow melts the chocolate, thus no finger-licking at the end, but it’s a decent sweet ending to the meal, if so desired.
The lemonade and blood orange soda are fine, though nothing exceptional. The exceptionalness of the evening is the main attraction—our “We Built This” personal pizza. Dinner in a box.
The 10-inch pizza is large enough to share, but who would want to? (Just skip lunch and eat the whole thing.)
Pi Day is Friday, March 14th. Build your own pizza for, of course, only $3.14.
Blaze Pizza, 667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 91101. Open daily at 11 a.m. BlazePizza.com. 626.440.7358.