"Would you like to create a masterpiece?" are likely to be the first very enthusiastic words you'll hear upon dropping into Pizza Studio, the new fast-casual pizza restaurant that opened Monday, March 10, at CityScape in downtown Phoenix.
The Los Angeles-based chain is one of a handful of fast-casual Subway (or Chiptole)-style pizza spots to open recently in the Valley. Like the other restaurants, Pizza Studio invites diners to create their own pizza -- or, uh, "masterpiece" -- by selecting crust flavor, type of sauce, and a variety of other toppings.
The restaurant allows you to customize your 11-inch pizza for $7.99, a price that includes unlimited toppings, or to go with one of its Starving Artist selections for $5.99. Those pizzas come in classic styles like margherita, pepperoni, and veggie lover.
But if you choose to make your own, the process begins by selecting one of five types of crusts: traditional, whole wheat and flax seed, rosemary herb, firecracker, and gluten-free. Firecracker, as you might assume, is a spicy version flavored with cayenne pepper. They're all thin and light and get just barely slightly crispy on the edges when cooked.
From there, you pick among tomato blend, basil pesto, tangy BBQ, or extra virgin olive oil as a sauce. Even the cheese is left up to your choice. In addition to the traditional mozzarella, you can add or choose feta, Parmesan, and goat cheese.
The rest of the customization process -- done Chipotle-style at the counter with the spread of ingredients on display -- comes to the vegetable selection. There are roasted and fresh veggies up for grabs including onions (caramelized and fresh), mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, olives, artichokes, pineapple, zucchini, and more.
And when it comes to meats, there are the usual options, including bacon, salami, pepperoni, and sausage, in addition to more unexpected choices such as organic free-range chicken and turkey fennel sausage.
It takes only a few minutes for your pizza to be cooked and ready to go. We're prety sure Pizza Studio isn't going to win any awards, but for a fast-casual pizza at about the same quality (and price point) as Subway, it's hit the nail on the head. The restaurant comes courtesy of John Lutz, a 30-year restaurant industry vet who's worked for companies including Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. There currently are five other locations open in California and Minnesota.
The CityScape restaurant will be the flagship Pizza Studio location, as the company already has signed a multi-unit development agreement for 20 new locations in the Phoenix area over the next five years. We'd better be ready to eat a whole lot of pizza.
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Pizza Studio 11 W. Washington Street, Suite 120 602-441-3311 www.pizzastudio.com 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday