Good pizza takes time. Dough takes time to develop and rise, pepperoni time to cure, cheese time to age. The process of pizza making is one of the things I enjoy most. But time is not a convenience we can always enjoy, whether is due to lack of planning, or an secondary urgency keeping us from being present too long in one moment, sometimes we just have to be on the move. And what if we want a fresh cooked pizza in the busiest of times? And I’m not talking a slice pie that was just cooked an hour ago and reheated. I’m talking cooked almost instantly while you wait in line…
Cue what I will call, the quick-fire pie. Thin, crispy, crust pizzas cooked in about 3 minutes, or less in a gas-fired oven.
This type of pizza joint has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, and at least 4 different restaurants that I can think of have popped up in Tucson, and a myriad exist across the US. Most in Tucson are chains, but the spot we visited for week 5 of 52 Weeks of Pizza, is locally owned. Taking a page from the Subway/Chipotle fast-casual playbook, each serves up a thin crust and a plethora of toppings to choose from. If you’re paralyzed by the anxiety of choosing your own toppings, they all typically have a handful of pizza suggestions, both classic and unique. Fired Pie, who recently just opened a second location in Tucson, offers up the Steak & Blue topped with oil & garlic, mozzarella, thin sliced steak, mushroom, peppers, onion, gorgonzola. Cheesesteak meets pizza. It’s one of my go to-orders.
My affinity for pungent, dare I say dank, cheeses drew me to a similar selection when I visited Pionic Pizza. The Bear Down Red & Blue pizza is a red sauce pizza, topped with mozzarella, blue cheese, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and pepperoni. Not the same a cheesesteak-pizza lovechild, but almost. In addition to offering pasta and salads, they had a pretty well stacked dessert case. And if you’re not feeling cannoli, you have the option for cotton candy. Pizza and cotton candy are not a pairing that I can say I’ve had before, and I think I’m getting a cavity just thinking about it. If you’re not saving yourself for dessert and just want to drink those extra calories, Pionic also serves beer. Yay beer!
Breaking down the pie:
Crust: Ultra crisp. Has a nice break to it, but mine on this visit was a little overcooked, that brought out a bit of a metallic taste.
Toppings: Good ratio of toppings to crust. The blue cheese really stood out. Cherry tomatoes, being out of season had an un-ripened flavor. Quality of the mozzarella was average.
Sauce: Light sauce layer perfect balance for how thin the crust is. Doesn’t add or detract from the pizza as a whole.
Overall: Bear Down – Red & Blue ($7.99) 🍕🍕🍕 out of 5 slices. Good value, as many of the quick-fire places are, along with speedy service make it a good lunch or weeknight pizza stop, if it’s convenient. It’s a locally owned and operated place, so much respect for that. However, the quality of dough, toppings and sauce is better at Fired Pie, making it my top choice for a fast-casual pizza place. I’d rank Pieology at the same level of quality as Pionic.
Try them out for yourself, then rant about them, in the comments.
Pionic Pizza & Pasta – 2643 N. Campbell Ave Suite 105, Tucson, AZ 85719
Fired Pie – 350 E. Congress St., #150, Tucson, AZ 85701 and 2645 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716
Pieology – 914 E.Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85719