In the mood for a quick bite, pizza was once again on the agenda. About a month ago I was told to try Fire Pizza on Commercial Drive by a friend, and had been waiting for an excuse to drop in. I twisted Melanie’s arm and was able to convince her to come try something new with me instead of going back to the familiar embrace of a place we knew and trusted.
Being lucky enough to find some free parking on a congested side street, we popped into Fire Pizza and were met with a charming hello. Chipper and kind, the girl working the front offered suggestions and quick service. Melanie grabbed two slices, those being beef & blue cheese and spicy chicken. Meanwhile I went on a little trip to bizzaro-world and requested slices of maple pork, bayerisch smokie, and masala chicken pizza.
I started with the masala chicken, as the bits of meat looked bright and tasty. I really expected the flavours to tantalize, but they fell flat. To be frank, it tasted fairly similar to an ordinary chicken pizza, which was slightly disappointing. The green peppers, tomatoes and onions provided the bulk of the flavour.
Next up was the bayerisch smokie, which I only ordered because of its ridiculous appearance. I have never seen cocktail weenies on a pizza, and certainly did not expect them to taste much better than one would imagine a hot dog pizza to taste, but I actually found the flavours to be surprisingly enjoyable. Coupled with bacon and tomato, the little smokies didn’t taste as out of place as they appeared.
Moving on, it was time to sample the maple pork, which excited me. Having had many varieties of ham on pizza, I had yet to try pork on one, and it led me to wonder why. With large masses of pork placed on the slice, it offered a very meaty texture that made its presence known in nearly every bite. The bacon added a nice accent to the pork whereas the tomato and onions kept the flavours tight and punchy. Even though I could not detect much in the way of a maple flavour, I still found this to be my favourite slice of the three I chose.
As usual, Melanie and I shared a few bites. It seems that more and more by the slice operations offer beef & blue cheese as of late, with each giving the style a special touch. What I found at Fire Pizza was a slice of beef & blue cheese that brought forth a distinctly meaty taste. This was accomplished through ground beef that was chunkier than I had seen elsewhere and it provided more substance to the slice.
The spicy chicken was loaded with banana peppers, and even though I quite enjoy those flavours on a regular basis, I found they were overrepresented on the slice. The chicken did little to stand out, and as I left Melanie to her slice she discovered several cartridge laden pieces of meat, derailing her enjoyment of the food near the end.
The toppings turned out positive for the most part, but the whole-wheat flour crust seemed oddly uninspired. Neither adding nor taking away from the experience, it was simply there. One could easily attribute this to the fact that our slices were reheated in the oven after we chose them from the warming tray. Reheating a slice never brings back the fresh flavours, but unless you want to buy an entire pizza, or happen to catch one just as it leaves the oven, it’s your only option at Fire Pizza.
What bothered me is that we entered Fire Pizza after lunch in the early afternoon, a time that I would consider relatively slow for food sales. We certainly were not the only customers inside, but the others were few and far between. The reason I mention this is because there were so many pizzas to choose from (at least eight, with some trays being mixes of leftovers). Normally I would say that such choice is a fantastic thing, but when a pizza joint offers such a significant breadth of options to a limited population, things get cold. There are other pizza shops that I have been to that simply have fewer options when the customers are less frequent, and it keeps things fresher. The end result of Fire Pizza’s push for options is that many of the pizzas suffer from being left out too long. Going at peak hours may alleviate this.
I can summarize my thoughts by saying that Fire Pizza achieves balance. The interesting toppings captivate, but the experience is mired by a so-so crust and food that may not be as fresh as it should be. If you are bored of typical toppings, you will likely find something that tickles your fancy at Fire Pizza, but bear in mind that fresh is always best and the pizza in the warmer may not bring out the full potential of the toppings.
Those bored of typical pizza toppings will find Fire Pizza a playground worth exploring, but keep in mind that the warming tray does not preserve the flavours all that well.
Fire Pizza, 1918 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
2 slice combo + pop
2 slice combo + pop + extra slice
$3.99 for the combo, $1.79 for additional slices (before tax)