When three or more concepts are too close for comfort in similarity, us Forkers deem it a trend. Last year, we found Pieology sprouting by Cal State Fullerton, paralleling Chipotle's concept across the way. The “kustom” pizza strategy took off just down the street from where Yogurtland founder Philip Chang first tested out his do-it-yourself frozen yogurt method within his Boba Loca chain. Nowadays, his corporation thrives (150+ spots strong) in their new Irvine headquarters. I loved their $7.50 price point, relaxed atmosphere and generously-sized meals. Pieology is set to open location two this winter at Irvine Spectrum, one of the busiest
“lifestyle centers” outdoor malls in the county.
A trendy interior and the promise of a meal in about two minutes (Pieology boasts under five) compels on-the-go college crowds some competition against Old Faithful z Pizza just around the corner. Plus, they served alcohol! We gave a thumbs up for scrumptious toppings like perlini mozzarella and crumbled meatballs, “fast fire'd” efficiency and user-friendly reheating instructions.
What we didn't realize was that over a month ago, The Pizza Press launched in its own prime market, across from the busiest place in Anaheim and attached to Carousel Inn. Although it might be suffering from what I call “Bruxie syndrome”– tight parking, no attached bathrooms, et cetera, we're still left with a quality product. They also proclaim Cordon Bleu graduate Craig Orell as creator, so it better taste special. We stopped by for lunch and were greeted by Bootlegger's and Anaheim Brewery on tap, Lola's Cookie Monster ice cream sandwiches(!!) and exceptionally courteous staff behind the counter of this Newsies-themed quick-service.
And the pizza pie? I ordered the Chronicle for $10, a mass of veggie goodness, for all those who lament about me adding meat to everything . . .which I almost did. Toothsome and filling, topped with mushroom, tomato, red onion and artichoke hearts, to name a few. If we're going to ding them for anything, it's that they are the only one without a wood-burning oven. The time spent waiting was somewhere between Pieology and Blaze's. After tasting all three brands, while the absence of this attribute is apparent, we're not complaining.
We only hope that folks disperse between Pieology, Blaze, and The Pizza Press so that the lines are manageable, because we found an alternative to our deep dish. If we had to summarize, Pieology was literally the biggest bang for our buck. Blaze possessed the most quality ingredients. Pizza Press offers local brews and desserts to complete your meal. That's amore all around.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.