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scene

Scene in South Bend: Blaze Pizza

| Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blaze_Banner_WebLucy Du

Across the street from the much-beloved Chipotle lies a shiny new Mecca of comfort food. Blaze Pizza opened its doors on Eddy Street in July and made the off-campus dinner debate that much harder.

The chain launched in 2012 and has since taken the nation by storm, opening over 70 locations in the past few years. The secret seems to lie in the presentation.

“It’s a create-your-own pizza,” assistant manager Todd Sharpe said, “Like a Chipotle, you get to walk down the line and choose what you want. It’s three minutes down the line and three in the oven. You get fast artisanal pizza.”

And if you don’t have the time to wait in line, you can order your pie through the store’s website.

While speed is definitely a contributing factor, the sheer variety of topping options is the true draw — you can’t get zucchini or ricotta on your pizza at North Dining Hall. For $7.45 you can get a signature pizza or a build-your-own pizza with unlimited toppings. They also serve salads, but the smell of artisanal crust is usually too alluring for customers to even consider just lettuce.

While Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students are undoubtedly happy about this new option for nearby off-campus dining, Blaze Pizza is just as excited.

“They’re trying to get Blaze Pizzas in college towns,” Sharpe said. The chain has clearly struck gold with its new audience of hungry college students on the lookout for cheap, delicious eats.

The Eddy Street location envelops you in a fun, bold atmosphere as soon as you walk in — industrial chic décor combines with upbeat music and a giant black and white “Make your mark” wall mural to create the perfect group dinner location or casual date spot. Even during its busiest times, it’s still quiet enough for a good conversation. Comfortable booths plus stools for even more seating ensure that you’ll want to linger and savor your custom pizza.

I made the short trip with friends in the middle of Activities Night so the line was blessedly nonexistent, but sources (i.e. pizza-obsessed friends) tell me that at times the wait is out the door. Overwhelmed by the choices, I went for what looked good, which was basically everything. Three minutes later, my thin crust pizza with white sauce, mozzarella and feta cheese, spinach, chicken, green peppers and tomatoes emerged from the oven, and I discovered true bliss.

IMG_8257Dakota Connell-Ledwon

 

 

The personal pizzas are cut into six slices that go down a lot easier than a huge burrito, but the portions may leave hungrier people craving just a little more. If this is the case for you, do what I did and hit up Kilwin’s afterwards — a waffle cone washes down the pizza nicely.

When I asked about the least busy times for the restaurant, Sharpe had no solid answer.

“It’s been all over — I really can’t say,” he said. “We open up at 10:30 in the morning and there’s people standing out here.”

Luckily, Blaze Pizza’s great hours mean pizza at almost any time of day: it’s open until midnight Sunday through Wednesday and until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday

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