DOWNTOWN’S NEWEST PIE-ENCE PROJECT: Pizzeria features fast service, unlimited toppings

I have to admit, I don’t really like pizza. It’s often so greasy that it makes me a little sick.

So when I agreed to go to Pieology (1020 16th Street) a new pizza shop that was described to me as “Chipotle, but with pizza,” I hoped it would be good enough that I, picky as I am, could enjoy it.

Luckily, Pieology lived up to my expectations. As Chipotle is known for its build-your-own burritos, so Pieology specializes in build-your-own pizzas. 

Pieology is a chain, with numerous locations all over California and a few locations in other states. The Sacramento location opened fairly recently, and there are several other California locations listed on the website ( as “coming soon.”

Their stated mission is to provide unique pizzas with a variety of fresh toppings for an affordable prize.

There were a lot of topics to choose from when I visited on April 12, and a few suggested combinations, such as Alfredo’s Alfredo (olive oil, three-cheese Alfredo sauce, parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, mushrooms, artichokes, basil, grape tomatoes and black pepper), which was one of the pies I sampled.

The Alfredo’s Alfredo could be described as a little bland, despite the long list of toppings. However, it was delicious nonetheless, saved by the tanginess of the artichokes and tomatoes.

I also ordered a sort of modified Hawaiian – red sauce, mozzarella, pineapple and ham, but also pesto, grape tomatoes and basil. The result was simultaneously familiar-tasting and new. I have a soft spot for baked tomatoes, so in conjunction with the sweet pineapple, the pizza was heavenly.

All the pizzas from Pieology feature thin, crispy crusts – if Chicago deep-dish is your thing, then this place may disappoint. The thin crusts allow the pies to cook much more quickly than thick-crusted pizzas, though, so we had to wait only about five minutes after paying to get our hot, fresh pizzas.

And here’s where Pieology one-ups Chipotle: the food is actually hot when it arrives, and not just because it’s spicy. Don’t get me wrong. Chipotle is great, but often by the time I add cheese, guac, lettuce, corn and other cold toppings, the dish as a whole is cold.

Pieology doesn’t have the same problem because the entire pizza is cooked before it is delivered to you for consumption. Sure, the grape tomatoes are cold when they’re put on the pizza, but soon they’re cooked to tongue-scorching perfection.

Some of the people ordering pizzas ate in-house as I did, but I also saw people carrying their pizzas out in branded boxes. It’s certainly faster than waiting half an hour or more to get a pizza delivered.

And with the mint-green subway tiles and meaningful-quote wallpaper (“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” – Winston Churchill) lining the walls, the atmosphere is laidback and fun. Black-and-white photos on the walls – Pieology pizza boxes arranged in a pattern verging on abstraction, disembodied hands arranging toppings on a circle of dough, a line of pizzas heaped high with toppings – only add to the effect.

Previously published in the print edition on April 28, 2015.

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