DINING: Pick-your-topping pizzeria blazes into Indy 

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Dining - A&E

From the front door of Blaze Pizza (913 Indiana Ave., 624-1500), you can see five other pie chains. So what makes this Pasadena, Calif.-based newcomer—which intends to expand to multiple locations in central Indiana—worth mentioning?

Blaze caught my attention because it’s the first local representation of a West Coast-fueled trend for fast-fired pizza. Get in line. Pick a sauce. Pick your toppings. Watch your creation get paddled into blazing oven. And two minutes later, you have your ready-to-eat creation. Wise buyers shouldn’t expect Pizzology or Napolese, but they should get an upgrade over those other national names within pepperoni-tossing distance.

ae-apb-blazepizza03-15col.jpg At Blaze, you start with a basic crust, then move down the line selecting toppings: artichokes, arugula and more. (IBJ photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

It’s hard to argue with the price. A build-your-own Blaze pie runs $6.95 with unlimited toppings, which benefits those who like to mix things up. (Keep it to simple dough, sauce and cheese and it’s $5). One of the advantages of the order-down-the-line system is that you can regulate quantity. Like a taste of goat cheese on your pie? A drizzle of pesto? Pineapple only on the half that doesn’t include the olives? Such orders would drive Papa John himself crazy. But they are part of the game here.

And while the crusts are limited to thin (a step above cracker) or gluten-free, the toppings have a wider range, including artichokes, arugula, applewood bacon, roasted garlic and fresh basil.

Some tips from my visits

• Avoid the temptation to overload. Consider trying a few toppings on one side and another set on the other rather than trying to take maximum advantage of the one-price deal. Too much roasted garlic can render the crust useless as a delivery device.

• Online orders offer quick pickup, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, you risk not being able to taste the pie fresh from the oven. Here, dine-in is clearly the best choice—although flash-fired also means flash-cooled. Linger too long at the soda station and you risk returning to pizza as cold as if you waited until day two.

• Don’t expect variety beyond the pies. Other pizza chains may feebly try to add sandwiches and wings into the mix, but Blaze stays focused, offering only a few salads and pre-made, but heated in the oven, S’more Pies ($2) for dessert. The latter, unfortunately, didn’t have the messy goodness one should expect from the campfire staple.

• Come with a tolerance for shouting. The staff will shout out a greeting when you walk in and the oven-watchers bark your name when your pie is ready.

• And don’t be afraid to request a redo. While my first visit brought out crisp, above-expectation pizzas, the second featured a pie that needed extra oven time. When it’s all you do, this kind of mistake shouldn’t happen.•


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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.