For the well-studied on the subject of pizza, Pieology is yet the latest entry into the Raleigh market for pie: the fast-casual pizza joint. The new line of the “Chipotle” of artisinal pizza chains have been rising up like pizza dough across the Triangle, and it’s likely that you’ve already seen the likes of Blaze Pizza and MOD Pizza around town. The California-based fast-casual pizza chain Pieology recently opened its second Raleigh location at the North Hills shopping center.
Pieology offers customers a chance to build-your-own 11.5” individual pizzas and salads with unlimited toppings, all for the price of $ 8.95. Much like Chipotle, customers queue up and move down a line to customize their pies with choices of crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. The pizzas are then baked quickly in an open-flame oven, in under five minutes as Pieology promises, and then brought to your table.
By happenstance, I stopped through the North Hills Pieology on a soft opening night, when all the pizzas were complimentary, and guests were encouraged to donate to the Boys and Girls Club, the charity of the night (engaging with the community and philanthropy are important pillars to Pieology’s business model).
For the price , the pizza at Pieology is not that bad. When you walk up to the front of the line to choose your crust, you’ll likely notice someone in the back of the open kitchen pressing the pizza dough using a machine. It turns out, as one of the managers explained, that the machine not only presses the dough to its thin, circular shape, but it also para-bakes the crust slightly which accelerates the baking process that happens later.
I move down the line, choosing the housemade white crust and ask the employee to ladle on some herb butter, along with the house red sauce onto my pie. I stick to the traditional mozzarella cheese (don’t want to go too crazy) and get unbridled adding heaps of all-natural chicken and sausage, and then add some red onions, tomatoes and green peppers for good veggie measure. The pizza then is transferred by peel to the hot oven, when indeed, it arrives to my table a short couple minutes later.
Let’s be real: the pizza at Pieology is nothing like you would get at a local institution like Lilly’s Pizza. You have to mitigate your expectations just a smidge at a place like this. Is the crust a bit bland? Yes, but it is crispy? Yep. Does the pizza come blazing hot at Pieology? No, but it is warm. My only major qualm from trying the pizza that night was mainly that the toppings did not taste like that they had been heated thoroughly–perhaps it fell victim to the vast number of people that were packed into the store that night. Too bad, because the pizza probably felt short of its taste potential, one that may have packed more of a zesty flavor had it been baked to a hotter temperature.
For customizable pizza in a succinct amount of time, there might be fewer better options than a place like Pieology in the area. Though, I must confess, for the same concept I still prefer Blaze Pizza. There’s a palpable vibrancy that underpins the general ambiance at Blaze Pizza that seems to be missing at Pieology. Still, for pizza in a pinch, Pieology will likely serve the masses well and will keep them well-fed for not a lot of chump change.
PIEOLOGY | 4158 Main at North Hills Raleigh, NC 27609 | 919.803.5860