Thursday, September 1, 2016

All smiles at Blaze Pizza

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 9:18 AM

click to enlarge LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker

Blaze Pizza, which operates locations on Cantrell Road in Little Rock and in the Conway Commons Shopping Center, is one of the newer food offerings in central Arkansas. The California-based chain is part of the fast-casual wave of restaurants on the rise, and by the looks of things during my visit, it’s seeing major success in the area.

Upon entering the Conway location, the entry to the ordering line is very obvious. Not-so-obvious is a stack of menus at about knee height. I recommend grabbing one of these to review as you make your way to the ordering counter—ordering is easy, but it’s smoother if you know what you’re doing. Once I arrived at the counter, the employee was very friendly and helpful—in fact, considering the obvious rush they’d just dealt with, it was shocking how friendly every employee seemed.

There are two routes for ordering—either a signature pizza or the DIY option. Either way, your name is put on a slip of paper which follows you through the assembly line. I chose the BBQ chicken pizza, because, you know, I like BBQ chicken. My friend chose to completely customize hers from the sauce to the toppings.
click to enlarge Barbecue Chicken Pizza - LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
  • Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Once paid, we grabbed drinks while we stood near the counter waiting on our pizzas to be quick-fired and our names called to retrieve them. Quick-fired means exactly that—our wait was no more than 3-5 minutes. Despite the rush, the space is large, so there were plenty of seating options.

I rushed into the first bite of pizza, excited about the carb-fest I’d been dreaming of all day, and that first bite did not disappoint. Neither did the second, or third, or fourth. The thin crust was perfectly cooked and had just enough crunch to be interesting, and though I initially thought the quantity of toppings appeared skimpy, I was wrong. There was exactly the right amount to work with the crust. The barbecue sauce was just a little sweet, which suits my tastes; my pizza also had chicken, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, banana peppers, and red onion.
click to enlarge A custom creation - LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
  • A custom creation

My friend created a pizza the likes of which the world has never seen. It included spinach, whole garlic cloves (for the win), pineapple, red onion and mozzarella. It was actually pretty good—which is to say, the overall quality was excellent, if the ingredient combination was a bit strange.

Blaze is semi-famous for their beverages, and I can see why. Though the lemonade was standard, the varieties of agua fresca were delicious and well-suited to a pizza joint.

Though the acoustics created a rather loud dining experience that had me wanting to scoot out quickly, I’d say everything else made up for that. The employees were incredibly friendly, and the pizza was exceptional—particularly considering the $8 price tag, quick firing, and the fact that I could have easily split my pizza with my friend (though, your mileage on that may vary). Blaze is what it is—and it’s good. 

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