I ate the same meal from 2 of the fiercest competitors in fast-casual pizza and found that MOD Pizza beat Blaze Pizza in almost every category

Irene Jiang / Business InsiderThe fast-casual pizza competition is heating up.

There’s more than one way to fire a pie.

And there’s more than one way to run a national chain of fast-casual restaurants serving made-to-order personal pizzas. MOD Pizza and Blaze Pizza have been neck-and-neck in the fast-casual-pizza race for a while. Blaze was dubbed the fastest-growing restaurant chain in history by research firm Technomic in 2017.

But, in 2019 MOD’s growth has blown Blaze’s out of the water, with systemwide sales growing more than 44%, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. The Seattle-based chain plans to reach 1,000 locations in the next five years.

The two chains have near-identical concepts: speedy, customisable, freshly made pizzas with grab-and-go sides and beer on tap.

So who does it better?


Read more:
I ate the same meal at Outback and LongHorn Steakhouse to see which would do it better, and the winner was superior in every way except service

Since I’m from Seattle, MOD was my go-to fast-casual pizza first. But I frequently ate at Blaze during my college years in the Midwest. I hadn’t been to either in years, so I didn’t have a favourite going into this taste test.

I went to both MOD and Blaze to compare dining experiences. I ordered largely the same meal: a side salad, a bread-based appetizer, a custom pizza, a chocolate-based dessert, and a beer on tap.

Here’s how they compared:


I made the arduous journey to the Blaze Pizza in lower Staten Island, New York.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Blaze’s interior was sleek, well-lit, and overly spacious.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

You can choose your pizza or build your own, with toppings incurring an extra charge.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I went to the MOD Pizza in Bellevue, Washington. It’s one of the national chain’s earliest locations.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD’s interior was dimly lit but full of local character.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Pizzas are sold by size and completely customisable at no extra cost. Any and all additional toppings are free.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At Blaze, the journey begins with the dough, which is pressed into rounds at the front of the assembly line.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At MOD, the dough crust is pre-made and stored in racks.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At Blaze, you can choose from four ready-made salad choices.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At MOD, you can choose from pre-designed salads or you can make your own. Either way, salads are completely customisable at no extra cost.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Blaze was empty when I went, but it still took nearly 10 minutes for my order to be started. There was an apparent lack of communication between the staff. I had to reiterate my order several times to various people as I moved from pizza assembly to check-out.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Meanwhile, MOD started my order almost immediately.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At Blaze, I ordered a three-topping personal pizza with Italian sausage, mushrooms, and onions. My pizza artist asked me if I wanted extra cheese. When I said no, she emphasised that it was free. I said yes.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Since toppings were no extra cost at MOD, I went a little overboard with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and artichokes.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

You can spice your Blaze pizza with oregano and salt. I chose both.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At MOD, there are three spice options: rosemary, oregano, and salt and pepper.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:
I ate everything at IKEA’s restaurant, and one dish convinced me to go back


The Blaze oven has a wide and flat opening. It goes in and comes out on the same long, wooden pizza paddle.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The oven at MOD is a simple metal machine. The pizza is slid off the pan into the hot oven and retrieved by a long pizza paddle.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Blaze had four beers on tap. When I asked my cashier if any of the beers were local, she said she didn’t know anything about beer, and that she thought all of them were local. I chose a Peroni, which is an Italian pale lager.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD only had two beers on tap. One was a local IPA and one was an Alaskan pale ale. My cashier explained the difference in detail to me, but I already knew I didn’t want the IPA.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

My meal at Blaze included dough knots, a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, a pint of Peroni lager, a custom pizza with keto crust, and a chocolate brownie.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

My meal at MOD was comprised of garlic strips, a simple salad, an Alaskan pale ale, a custom pizza, and No Name Cake.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

BLAZE — DOUGH KNOTS: Not to be confused with doughnuts, Blaze’s dough knots are savoury pesto twists made with fresh dough.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

They came with a marinara dipping sauce. My pizza artist had told me they were garlic knots, so I was surprised that they had no garlic flavour.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Without the sauce, they were doughy and a little tough and flavourless. I found myself missing the garlic that never was.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD — GARLIC STRIPS: MOD’s garlic strips came with a choice of sauce. I chose pesto.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

They were thin, crispy, and smothered in herbs and minced garlic.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:


I tried fries from 8 major fast-food chains, and one far outshone the rest


They went exceptionally well with the generous pesto sauce, although they weren’t quite as thick or doughy as I would have liked from a garlic bread appetizer.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

BLAZE — TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD: Blaze’s tomato and mozzarella salad came in a plastic takeaway container.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It was surprisingly well-balanced, with a solid base of lettuce and arugula. Refreshingly light mozzarella went hand-in-hand with the tomato and roasted pepper.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The pesto dressing, however, was salty and watery. It dragged the rest of the salad down with it.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD — SIMPLE SALAD: MOD’s salad came in a plastic bowl.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It was simple: spring greens, roasted red peppers, and asiago cheese. I chose a balsamic dressing.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The simple salad was indeed simple. But all of its ingredients were high-quality, and in the end MOD salads are endlessly customisable. They’re as good as you make them.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:


I tried the signature burgers from 5 major fast-food chains, and the winner was obvious


BLAZE — THREE-TOPPING PIZZA: I chose the option with the most toppings, and it still wasn’t quite enough. I also chose a keto crust.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The Italian sausage was large but bland, and the whole pizza tasted generally undercooked. The keto crust was the most impressive element. It mimicked the taste and texture of traditional crust pretty closely, but it only had three grams of carbs per slice.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:
Blaze Pizza just launched the first keto-diet-approved pizza crust to be served at a national chain. I tried it and was surprised by how good it was.


The constituents of Blaze’s pizza were all OK, but none felt especially high-quality. And I wish I hadn’t listened to my pizza artist about the extra cheese. There was too much cheese.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD — MOD PIZZA: Since toppings are free at MOD, I loaded my pizza with pepperoni, spicy chicken sausage, artichokes, onions, and mushrooms on a red sauce and mozzarella base.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD’s impossibly thin, impossibly crispy crust was a triumph.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Everything about this pizza tasted of quality. The sausage was juicy and flavorful, the pepperoni spicy, and the onion and mushroom caramelised for a soft, biteable texture.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:
I ate everything at Costco’s food court, and it was clear that its trendiest items are also its worst


BLAZE — PERONI LAGER: The Peroni pale lager was a little too dry and bitter for my taste. I’d probably go with a Blue Moon next time. Unfortunately, there were no local beers to choose from.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD — ALASKAN PALE ALE: Crisp and mild, the Alaskan pale ale at MOD was the ideal partner for my pizza. It enhanced the savoury flavour notes.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

BLAZE — CHOCOLATE BROWNIE: There are three desserts to choose from at Blaze: a chocolate brownie, a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt, and a s’more pie. I chose the brownie.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

My cashier had offered to place my brownie in the pizza oven to heat it up, then promptly forgot about it. When I went back to the counter to retrieve it, my cashier apologised and noted that it was “probably pretty hot by now.”

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Blaze’s chocolate brownie is deeply satisfying. Sweet, gooey, and practically oozing chocolate, it’s the perfect chocolate dessert.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD — NO NAME CAKE: No Name Cake is the only pre-made dessert MOD has to offer. You can also order cinnamon strips with strawberry, cinnamon glaze, or chocolate dipping sauce.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The No Name Cake is essentially a high-end Hostess Ding Dong. It’s a soft chocolate cake with a creme filling and a coat of chocolate.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It was moist and sweet, but if I wanted a Ding Dong, I’d just go to Safeway. I was disappointed that this cake wasn’t more interesting.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider


Read more:


I ate apple pies from 5 fast-food chains, and the winning pie blew me away


My meal at Blaze left a few things to be desired. I was surprised at the glacial speed of service and disorder behind the counter, especially compared to MOD’s flawless pace of service. Blaze also offered a much more limited degree of customizability.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

On the other hand, the dining process at MOD was easy and quick, and the staff seemed very knowledgeable about the food. The quality of the food was slightly better, but where MOD really outshines Blaze is in customizability. The fact that pizzas and salads are priced by size and not by toppings makes it feel like you can truly do anything you want with your meal at MOD.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

In fast-casual pizza, three things are key: speed, taste, and customizability. MOD clearly beat Blaze on all three fronts. However, Blaze’s addictive chocolate dessert won the chain some brownie points.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.