Photos by Isaac Marziali
SPHS students and other South Pasadena locals lined up down the block outside of 1100 Fair Oaks Avenue on Thursday, November 30 for the long-awaited opening Blaze Pizza. The acclaimed pizza chain recently purchased the building that once belonged to Blockbuster which had been vacated for several years. On opening day, Blaze served free pizza bringing in a massive line of guests that persisted for most of the day. Despite the crowd, Blaze was able to provide timely service and quality food.
Blaze has completely transformed the space it has taken over: the restaurant bears no resemblance to the cluttered Blockbuster that once stood in its place. The wide open space has room to fit a good amount of seating without being too cluttered; the unfinished ceiling and low hanging lights give the interior a hipster-like atmosphere that many South Pas restaurants have adopted in recent years. Plastered on the right wall is an image with text reading “risk the unusual,” a statement hinting at the variety of choices that you have when designing your own pie. Perhaps it is an appeal to Blaze’s young customers. Whatever it may be, Blaze Pizza certainly allows you to “risk the unusual” when choosing toppings.
Since the first Blaze Pizza opened in 2011, the company has gotten a handle on the “build your own pizza market.” Guests all begin ordering with only a crust laid out. The rest is up to them. The degree of customization extends even to the sauce, for which customers have a surprisingly wide variety of choices, from the classic red sauce to garlic pesto spread. Customers even have the possibility of ordering pizza with ranch dressing, though the decision to do so might spark controversy among friend groups. After the sauce is chosen, guests load their pies up with cheeses, meats, and veggies. The options in these categories are just as widespread as the sauce, and for $8.45, you can choose as many toppings as you want. It doesn’t take long for pies to cook in the burning hot oven that gives Blaze Pizza its name, and it comes out of the oven at a near perfect temperature.
The pizza is quite good, provided that you have the sense to know what ingredients go together. While the pie could have benefitted from a more generous amount of cheese, the sauce (particularly classic tomato) has a rich flavor that one would expect from a single restaurant, but not from a chain. The crust complements the toppings fairly well but is admittedly ordinary on its own. Overall, between excellent service, quality food, and freedom of choice, Blaze Pizza is a welcome addition to South Pasadena’s palette.
Beyond that, Blaze Pizza will also soon become a popular workplace for high schoolers during weekends or summer break. The restaurant has already employed several South Pasadena High Schoolers.
Senior Jack Brown is one of the many high school students who has taken a job making food at Blaze Pizza. After a week and a half of training, he finally began work on Thursday when the Restaurant opened its doors. He now regularly serves food for four hours after school and eight on weekends. Despite the long hours, Brown is very satisfied with his new job and is looking forward to spending more time at Blaze in the future.
“I’ve made so many friends working there.” says Brown, “It’s a great environment to work in because everyone is helping one another out.”
Brown and his co-workers focus on crafting pies exactly to their guests’ likings, leaving them satisfied and eager to return to Blaze Pizza. Brown will eventually leave South Pasadena and Blaze Pizza behind for college, but until then he plans to continue working and making customers happy.
1100 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena
10:30 AM-11:00 PM Sunday-Saturday