Restaurant review: Blaze Pizza fires up the Campus-area fast food scene

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza employs a gratuitous apostrophe in its name, but based on my visit during a recent dinner rush, everything else about this clever company screams “efficiency.” Put simply, Blaze is the most impressive fast food chain to hit Columbus in a long while. And even if you avoid fast food like I do, Blaze is still hard to beat when it comes to fantastic pizza bargains.

The Pasadena-based serial pizzeria is a zeitgeist-y operation that follows the Chipotle model, bakes “artisanal”-style pies, and is vegan-friendly and gluten free-accommodating. More background: Though it currently claims about 40 restaurants, the franchisor is expanding aggressively.

Blaze put its first Central Ohio roots down in an obvious location — across from the student union on the OSU campus. Said space embraces scarlet and gray (it better, right?), but otherwise, is little more than a long and narrow room with banquettes, communal tables and not-shy-on-the-volume modern college music. Basically, it’s designed to funnel diners in and out. But that’s part of the appeal.

So is the speed with which Blaze cooks pizzas — about three minutes. Baked in a huge oven that reaches 600-800 degrees, the pies taste too damn good to cost only $5-$7.

After drifting into line, you can order one of nine pre-designed “signature” pizzas ($6.95). Alternately, since it’s Chipotle-style, you can customize one of Blaze’s super-thin, puffy, crisp and toasty crusts by going as wild as you want on the many toppings awaiting in assembly line-style troughs (also $6.95). My accomplice and I did both with happy results.

The Green Stripe is a harmonious medley of tender chicken chunks, respectable pesto sauce, roasted red peppers, a lotta chopped garlic (strong!), mozzarella and an arugula garnish.

Atop Blaze’s sweet-and-tangy pizza sauce, my partner’s build-your-own pie layered herby turkey meatballs, sweet and addictive bulbs of properly roasted garlic, decent, fennel-seeded sausage clumps, sliced artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella and banana peppers. I’d eat either pie again in a heartbeat.

Though it came with a flavorful dressing, my one disappointment was a tired, pre-made Roasted Veggie and Gorgonzola Salad ($3.95). With pizza deals like these though, that’s a minor complaint.

Blaze Pizza Fast-Fire'd

1708 N. High St., Campus