Third-Wave Pizza Concepts Serve up Upscale Ingredients


As pizza continues to get the “fast casual/better burger” treatment, Eater examined how a “third wave” of emerging pizzeria chains plan to scale up while maintaining high quality and consumer interest.  

The first wave of pizza concepts includes old-guard delivery chains like Domino’s, built around speed, convenience and value. During the past 10 years, a second wave of brands like Blaze, Pieology, and 800 Degrees have emerged to build their businesses on customization, high-heat ovens and speed. Blaze Pizza, founded in Pasadena, California, in 2011, followed a blueprint from Your Pie, MOD Pizza and Pieology, all offering smaller, personal pies, “which can be constructed from a selection of crusts (including gluten-free), and piled high with unlimited toppings, sauces, as well as cheeses (including vegan options). After loading up the uncooked pies, employees pop them into a gas-fired stone hearth; the pies take around two to three minutes to cook,” according to Eater.

Enter the third wave pizza concepts, which take a slow-food approach to authentic, regional Italian pizza making, topped off with high quality, upscale ingredients. Eater points to New York’s Martina, where founders fuse “fine-dining elements into the fast-casual pizza industry” as a third wave pizza leader, run by the same group responsible for the wildly popular Shake Shack burger chain. But Martina’s approach, which includes sourcing heritage pigs from two particular Ozark area farms to make pork fennel sausage, is hard to see scaled up for fast-casual efficiencies.

“Admittedly,” noted Eater, “this third wave of pizzerias isn’t trying to go toe-to-toe with the old guard, with many operators claiming they attract different demographics with their superior ingredients and inviting decor. But whether they like it or not, they, too, are finding themselves drawn to the sirens’ call of delivery.”

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • Downsize pies for single servings and greater speed
  • House-special sauces and topping combos that set your brand apart
  • Partnering with a driving service to offer delivery


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds