Northwest Calgary’s rising restaurant scene brings new delicacies — like pizza — for locals and the excitement around a good slice has never been more real. It’s no surprise that we were thrilled to welcome U/D’s newest retail partner, Blaze Pizza, to our exciting line up!
We sat down with Jared Taylor, Vice President of Operations at Cypress Five Star, Inc., the Blaze Pizza franchisee in Canada, to learn the skinny about what to expect with its newest location and how to make your own pie, the Blaze Pizza way.
“The beauty of pizza is that it’s so satisfying, whether made-from-scratch or made-to-order,” says Jared. “Pizza can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, with the almost unlimited choices of toppings, combined with gooey cheese and different sauces. Although we prefer the sharp sweetness of marinara!”
Fresh, fast and exceptional quality are part of Blaze Pizza’s guarantee to customers, so we’re excited to hear what we can expect to experience in 2020 when this location opens.
In a world where artisan pizza is becoming the norm, Blaze Pizza brings something fresh to the table with its ingredient-forward approach. The custom-built pizzas appeal to novice and connoisseurs alike, and is giving NW Calgary fans a reason to celebrate!
“We’re changing the way people think about pizza and how they eat it with our interactive open-kitchen concept, “ says Jared.
Back-of-the-house staff makes the dough from scratch daily using carefully sourced ingredients and a 24-hour fermentation period to produce the signature light-as-air, crisp crust that Blaze Pizza is known for.
That’s only the start of your pizza journey when you come in to dine. Choose from Blaze’s signature collection menu or build your own generously sized personal pizza. After choosing your sauce, cheese and toppings, watch as your pizza is cooked under a hot, open flame – the centrepiece of the restaurant – where pizza chefs ensure the thin-crust pies are fast-fired and ready to eat in just 180 seconds.
“We’ve been a part of Calgary’s culinary scene since 2016 and we’ve seen first-hand how this ideal comfort food brings friends and families together,” says Jared. “From gluten-free dough and vegan cheese to animal rennet free dairy and even tree-nut free pesto. It’s important for us to offer an experience where everyone can participate.”
The restaurant’s design is inspired by its celebration of unconventional thinking and is why Jared felt University District, with its creative vision and fresh take on community living, was a natural fit for the newest location.
“The University District vision and community aligns with our culture and our brand, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of the incredible retail growth that will really enhance this part of the city. From the new Cineplex VIP Cinemas and nearby hospitals to the University, there’s such a draw for Calgarians and it is showcasing how great the NW is.”
Jared knows a thing or two about a good pizza and he was willing to share some industry secrets with us to help our neighbours and residents make a pizza parlour-worthy pie at home.
“Make a pizza to what your heart and taste buds desire. At home, get a little messy and have some fun because there is nothing like that first taste when it comes out of the oven, knowing that you made the pizza out of love and hunger.”
While it may be tough to match a delicious brick oven pie with a homemade pizza, you can get pretty close with some of Jared’s tips and recommendations that will increase your chances for glorious pizza night experiences with your partner, family or friends. Let’s take a look!
Don’t overwork the dough
More than just the base, the dough is what gives pizza its texture and holds together the flavours. If it’s done right, it can make you feel like you’ve been transported to a pizzeria in Naples, Italy. Overworking the dough means a flat cracker crust pizza that’s missing that delectably chewy texture we know and love. The less you work the dough the better!
Tip: Depending on whether you’re a thin-crust aficionado or a thick-crust lover, pizza dough should ideally be stretched until it’s between 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch thick.
Keep it simple
While it may seem exciting to add lots of creative toppings to your pie, less is always more! Don’t fall prey to the temptation of over accessorizing your pizza. Think instead about the balance of flavour and whatever you do, restrain yourself from being too adventurous.
Tip: Choose complementary flavours and include no more than five to seven toppings. A salty, cured meat like prosciutto goes well with a simple garnish like arugula!
Finish with a bit of sea salt and dry oregano
The right balance of spices and herbs can yield a noticeable flavour boost. For that added lift, finish your pie with a pinch of sea salt (one finger pinch will do) and dry oregano. You won’t want pizza any other way after you try this!
Tip: Depending on your toppings, consider a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar or even pesto sauce! It will kick your pizza game up a notch!
While it’s easy to order in, biting into fresh, made-from-scratch pizza is rewarding and the process of making it is too much fun to pass up. From getting your hands a little dirty by whipping up the dough (check out All Recipes: Pizza Dough recipe for inspiration!) and grating cheese to making your own sauce and adding the toppings, there’s no shortage of personalization when you choose to forgo the takeout menu.
To make you more comfortable with the art of the pizza, here’s a step-by-step guide to making your own pie creation.
Nothing tops a freshly-made homemade pizza, but if you don’t have time to make dough from scratch, Save-on-Food’s baked brick oven pizza crusts are solid picks!
Some people favour a traditional marinara sauce while others enjoy a “white” pizza with a spiced olive oil or perhaps a pungent and tasty pesto sauce. Whatever your vice, go easy on the sauce! Three to four tablespoons of sauce for a personal sized pizza (8-10”) should be enough. Using the back of a spoon spread the sauce evenly around the dough. Don’t leave empty areas and don’t push too hard or you will have one sticky and sloppy mess on your hands!
It goes without saying that a pizza will be topped with cheese. Play it safe with mozzarella or mix things up and try Jalapeno Havarti for an added kick. Whatever flavour or type tickles your fancy, don’t be shy about cheese on pizza, but be sure to exercise some degree of restraint. You don’t want to sop up grease with your napkin or have your crust fall apart. Remember to go easy!
Next, top your pizza with your choice of meats. Whether you like it traditional with pepperoni or enjoy the salty taste of bacon, try to ensure even coverage to get that ideal flavour profile in every bite.
Personalize your pie with whatever vegetable toppings you want. Combine popular toppings like roasted pepper, mushrooms and sausage, or opt to try something unusual, like grilled vegetables and goat cheese pizza. The sky’s the limit! Just remember to keep it simple and let the ingredients shine.
Whether you’re home alone on a Wednesday afternoon or having Sunday dinner with the family, pizza is without a doubt a crowd-pleasing choice. With these expert tips, you’ll be whipping up hot and fresh pizzas in no time and your taste buds will thank you for it!
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.