Hungry pizza lovers stand in line thinking of what they will create this time. (Photo by Makaila Ho)
It’s 2015, pizza is no longer just any ‘ol meal, but an obsession. The trends of pizza-loving and DIY projects have been combined to create a new craze: do-it-yourself pizzerias. Within 10 miles of Saddleback College, two create-your-own pizza business have opened since 2013. Being able to spend less than $8 on a full-sized pizza with unlimited toppings can (and has) turn any college student into a DIY pizza fanatic.
Opening in November of 2013 and located at the forever growing Irvine Spectrum, Pieology was the first local ‘personally inspired pizza’ restaurant. Employees specialize and prioritize in valuing the customer. The employees’ attitudes mixed with the inspirational quotes that adorned the walls made for a very pleasant vibe. I would go back just for that.
A personal favorite, the hawaiian deliciousness from Pieology. (Photo by Makaila Ho)
Pieology also offers vegan cheese and gluten free options, and as a side dish, they are well known for their cinnamon strips.
On July 24, 2014, the Mission Viejo food court was blessed with the presence of Blaze Pizza. The locally based company prides itself on their customer service and fresh ingredients.
“We make our dough fresh everyday,” said Lyra Jackson, one of Blaze’s pizza-olos, or pizza chefs.
“We’re trained to engage with our customers on a personal level,” said Taylor Smith, another pizza-olo.
Blaze offers gluten-free options and freshly-made lemonades. With the options of ‘Original’ and ‘Blood Orange’, the lemonades, which contain no artificial sweeteners, are a popular drink selection. A new batch is freshly made three times a day. Their lemonades are refreshing and flavorful without that tangy pucker-your-face touch. The blood orange had more flavor if you’re looking for something sweet. It tastes like a popsicle in the middle of summer.
This is a more savory mouthful from Blaze Pizza, and while it is considered a “personal pizza” it could easily feed two. (Photo by Makaila Ho)
The most unique feature of Blaze pizza is their involvement with its neighboring college, Saddleback. Throughout the school year, this pizzeria offers specials to students. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming specials (*Hint Hint* pie day).
The newest pie-making restaurant opened its doors just two months ago in December of 2014. The Pizza Studio offers a unique element by presenting a wide selection of crusts.
“We have six crusts and we can cook your pizza in just two minutes,” said Levi Garcia, shift leader.
This location also has the unique factor of offering a selection of bottled alcohols. With the selection of four wines and five beers, it becomes a great hangout for friends or a date.
Instead of cooking their pizza in a large ovens like most others, The Pizza Studio bakes their pizza in a double convection, allowing for a shorter wait for their customers and an evenly-cooked pizza every time.
Pizza Studio offers the most variety of crusts, while Blaze has the most cheese and topping options, and Pieology gives the most choices of sauces.
With all the options it can sometimes be hard to choose the perfect pizza. Recommended by the pizzamakers themselves, no more than two meats and four/five toppings should be put on a pizza in order to keep it from getting soggy.
One of my personal favorites is a Hawaiian BBQ style from Pieology.
You start with the crust of your choice, then add red sauce, light mozzarella cheese, onions, pineapple, cilantro, artichokes, and spinach, then top it off with chicken and ham, and finalize the masterpiece with drizzled BBQ sauce.
After roughly five minuets of baking in large wood oven, your ‘kustom’ pizza is completed.
When taking the first bite your taste buds experience a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Noticing the cilantro flavors mix in with a powerful addition to the slice. The pizza is thin crust, cooked to a crunch.
“This is the best tasting pizza I have ever had. I really think it is!” said restaurant patron Christopher White, 13, after indulging in a slice.
If you’re looking for a less sweet option, another favorite off-menu item is a spicy chicken and garlic option at Blaze Pizza.
They offer a spicy jalapeno inspired red sauce, and if you’re daring you can adorn your pie with solely that as a base. If you’ve got a more sensitive palate, I would recommend the original sauce mixed with a little bit of the spice red.
They offer fresh ungraded mozzarella, so, of course, that is my cheese of choice. For toppings, oregano, olives, whole toasted garlic cloves, basil, and olive oil.
Within 180 minutes, the perfect pizza will be removed from their fiery oven and your name will be called. Because I mixed the sauces the pizza wasn’t too hot, it just had a little kick.
The pizza was thin crust, but not crunchy, it was the kind of soft where you needed two hands to eat it, one for the crust and one to guide the section of the next bite into your mouth.
The garlic cloves added a very creamy and unique flavor. If you like garlic but aren’t as enthusiastic of whole cloves, they also offer minced garlic as an alternative.
The pizza was zesty and full of deeper and more sophisticated flavors than a typical pizza.
The service was amazing, the pizza was delicious, and the drinks are refreshing. With their college specials, I am bound to make a pit stop at these restaurants in the future.