- MOD Pizza is America’s fastest-growing restaurant chain.
- I went to the MOD Pizza in Bellevue, Washington, to see what the dining experience was like.
- I was impressed by the food’s customizability, the ingredients’ freshness and quality, and the efficient yet personal assembly-line format.
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MOD Pizza was founded in 2008 by a wife-and-husband duo, Ally and Scott Svenson, who noticed a need for casual, speedy, and healthy pizza options.
As a teenager, I ate at the location in my hometown’s strip mall, way back when MOD was a local Seattle chain. It was exciting because it was the first pizza place I’d been to that served fully customisable personal pizzas.
Since then, MOD has become an international phenomenon, with over 400 locations across the US and the UK. It has also fully embraced a purpose-driven business model, with a focus on hiring for impact and investing in its staff’s professional growth.
It had been years since I’d eaten at a MOD Pizza, so when I went home to Seattle I decided to stop in and investigate what was behind its meteoric rise in popularity.
I made my way to the MOD Pizza in Bellevue, one of the chain’s oldest locations.
To avoid the crowds, I went soon after the restaurant opened for the day.
But I wasn’t even the first customer.
A board at the door advertised local community events and art.
The menu emphasised the pizzas’ customizability.
You can create your own pizza from scratch, or select from predesigned combinations. It’s priced by size, so toppings don’t cost extra.
Each MOD location sells local brands of beer.
The dough is prepared by a MOD team member and stored in racks ready for immediate use.
At the line, a friendly and helpful team member assembled my pizza.
I chose a base of red sauce and mozzarella, with pepperoni, spicy chicken sausage, artichokes, mushrooms, and onions.
I had a hard time choosing because I wanted to put everything on my pizza.
When I asked for advice, my pizza artist told me she liked to “keep it simple.” I tried.
I did ask for all the spices though: salt and pepper, rosemary, and oregano.
The pan man slid my pizza into the oven.
I also ordered a simple salad with balsamic dressing.
Tragically, I didn’t realise until later that my salad, like my pizza, was completely customisable.
At the checkout, I grabbed a No Name Cake and an Alaskan pale ale on tap. I declined to finish my pizza with a drizzle of sauce.
By the time I was done ordering, the joint had begun filling up.
My order included a custom MOD pizza, garlic strips, an entree-size simple salad, a No Name Cake, and an Alaskan pale ale.
MOD PIZZA — I started with the pizza, still hot from the oven.
The crust was thin but crispy, and the toppings were generous.
Each slice was heavy with toppings, but it didn’t feel overloaded with grease or carbs.
I was impressed by how light yet sturdy the crust was and how high-quality the individual toppings were.
I wasn’t sure if artichoke was the right call for a red-sauce pizza. On my next trip, I might experiment with different toppings.
But aside from the artichoke, the pizza tasted good and felt healthy.
GARLIC STRIPS — This was basically a round of pizza dough slathered with garlic topping and baked.
The strips were surprisingly thin and light, though I’m not sure what I expected.
It was made from the same dough as the pizza’s crust.
I chose a pesto dipping sauce to go with the strips.
The strips weren’t quite as bready as I wanted, but the garlic flavour was perfect, and pesto was definitely the right choice of sauce.
SIMPLE SALAD — I regretted not customising my salad, because all that was in this were mixed greens, roasted red peppers, and asiago cheese.
But I really should have had more faith in MOD.
These ingredients actually worked quite well together. It was simple, yes, but satisfying.
NO NAME CAKE — Finally, it was time for dessert.
I’m not sure why MOD didn’t bother giving the No Name Cake a name. It’s essentially an elevated Hostess cake. I’d call it the “MOD-ified Ding Dong.”
It’s a moist, pillowy chocolate cake filled with cream and coated in chocolate.
The chocolate on the outside was a bit dry, but the cake inside was practically juicy. I wasn’t all that sure about the cream inside — I would have preferred more chocolate. But I was far from disappointed.
I was so preoccupied with my food that I almost forgot about my beer.
DRAFT BEER — It was cold and crisp, and it paired well with the carbs on my plate.
I struggled to make it through my beer, as I’d ordered enough food for two people. Next time, I’ll bring a friend.
Every aspect of my MOD experience impressed me. The assembly-line format allows employees to be experts at their jobs. The layout of the restaurant streamlines the dining process from ordering to cleanup. But most importantly, the food was fresh and delicious, and it made me feel good.
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