The 1 syllable restaurant name (or moniker), they’re the trendy kind of places that are effortlessly chic and cool, with names like Quiche or Crash, they evoke the image of clean white walls, minimalistic furniture, and lots of glass. I’ve come to find that pizza joints aren’t immune to this trend toward name minimization – but who can blame them. They easily roll of the tongue, are remembered, and thus talked about, and can be cheeky without being cheesy (is that a pun?). Recently I sampled two such places, Piece (aka Piece Brewery and Pizzeria) and Blaze (aka Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza). So lemme break it down for you.
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria: Wicker Park
Ordered: Medium, ‘Plain Pizza’ with Sausage and a Swingin’ Single Belgian Style Single Ale
Cost: Approx. $25
Taste ‘n’ Stuff: To start, the beer was on point. I wish I knew a little more about beer… I mostly just pretend to, but I know what i like and what I don’t like and their hand-crafted brews are gooood. But don’t just take my word for it; they have been winning awards for it since 2002! Now to the pizza. My friend and I happened to go on a particularly packed day and were both a little frazzled by the whole experience (I think the Hawks… or someone was playing a big game), so we didn’t really read the menu carefully. When we ordered the ‘plain pizza’ we thought that it was plain cheese, though it clearly states in the menu that the plain pizza is a “traditional New Haven pizza, [with] a generous amount of red sauce topped with garlic, extra parmesan and olive oil (This pizza does not have mozzarella)” – this did not register with us. When the pizza came out I had two thoughts: whoa look at all that pizza and wait where da cheese. It was still delicious, great quality pizza, and a lot of it, but I’m a girl who likes her cheese.
Vibe: Definitely a fun young place, but one of those places where the tables are basically on top of each other; which is fun because you can scope out the pizza pie next to you, maybe strike up a conversation, but not the place to go if you’re looking for privacy or a quiet dinner.
Yelp: 4 out of 5 stars
Alien Classification: Frisky and Fresh
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza: Lake View (right below the Belmont Red/Purple/Brown line stop)
Ordered: Meat Eater – pepperoni, crumbled meatballs, red onion, mozzarella, red sauce (11in) and a Caesar Salad
Taste ‘n’ Stuff: FREAKIN’ DELISH. Blaze (undeniably the brain child of a stoner) is a unique pizza experience. When my mama stopped in town we wanted to get a quick bite, so we stopped by Blaze. I had passed it a billion times, but never had the chance to go in. Pizza only comes in 1 size – personal (though they are pretty hefty personal’s so my mom and I split it), you can build your own, or choose one of theirs, then they fire it and it’s done in 180 seconds! 180 seconds! Needless to say I was a happy little alien. You would think because it’s so fast that the pie might be lacking in quality or taste, but au contraire mon frère, my mom and I both loved it. Also they had these s’more pie situations that looked amazing – I plan on snagging one next time.
Vibe: Since Blaze is set up a lot like Chipotle but like… with pizza, it’s a very casual environment. Seat yourself, high top tables (the ones by the window are a great people watching spot), serve yourself and so on. Great if you’re in a hurry, have a case of the munchies, or want a pizza that tastes homemade… without the home-making part.
Yelp: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Alien Classification: A best bud for buds with bud
Stay hungry my friends
Arty the Alien