Photo courtesy of Blaze Pizza.

Pizza is about to get personal in the North Hills.

Blaze Pizza, a fast casual eatery that specializes in customized pies at an affordable price, is opening Thursday, Nov. 15 at The Block Northway in Ross Township.

Located just north of the city limits on McKnight Road in a shopping complex that includes Wahlburgers and The Container Store, the 2,600-square-foot space features seating for more than 50 and a large open-flame oven that cooks a meal in three minutes. This open kitchen serves as the centerpiece of the restaurant.

The open-flame oven cooks pizzas in three minutes. Photo courtesy of Blaze.
The open-flame oven cooks pizzas in three minutes. Photo courtesy of Blaze.

The Blaze concept started in California in 2012 and has more than 300 locations. It was recently named the No. 1 Brand of the Year in the Fast Casual Top 100. Investors include basketball star LeBron James, movie producer John Davis and Boston Red Sox co-owner, Tom Werner.

Here’s how it works: Patrons can customize one of the menu’s 11-inch, signature pizzas or create their own from scratch-made dough, all natural meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. People with dietary restrictions can order gluten-free dough, vegan cheese and tree nut-free pesto. The price is around $8, no matter how many toppings are added.

“We encourage people to come in and build a pizza,” says Rachel Albritton, media specialist for the California-based chain.

On Friday, Nov. 16, The Block Northway location will host a Free Pizza Day. Folks who follow Blaze on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat can get a pie on the house from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Albritton anticipates long lines that day, but says it’s worth the wait.

And as if free pizza wasn’t charitable enough, Blaze has a fundraiser program that returns 20 percent of an event’s proceeds to local organizations. They’ll be partnering with local schools, sports clubs and other groups to host regular fundraising events.

Regular hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Since 2015, Blaze has opened four other Pittsburgh-area restaurants a bit further from the city in Cranberry Township, Settler’s Ridge, Bridgeville/South Fayette and Monroeville.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.