I received a complimentary dinner at my local MOD Pizza in exchange for sharing my thoughts. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions remain my own.
A MOD Pizza opened up near me late last year, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine mentioned that she thought it was somewhat allergy friendly that I visited myself for the first time. Little Miss has a dairy allergy, so pizza places aren’t generally our first stop when eating out, but not only can MOD Pizza handle her allergy with no issues, they make a fantastic pizza in no time flat that pleases any palate out there.
MOD Pizza is growing quickly, and there is a new location opening in Naperville at 103 S Washington Street on April 28. Cool thing I learned when talking to Allan – my local manager – last night? When MOD Pizza does their soft opening, they choose a local charity and 100% of the proceeds from all pizza sales go to that charity on the first day they’re open, usually between $2,000 and $5,000. This is their seventh location in Illinois and puts them well on their way to their goal of opening 70 company-owned locations this year and up to 30 franchise stores across the nation (currently in 16 states).
What’s the appeal? Where to start? When you first walk into MOD Pizza, you can see the “set” menu of options that range from my dad’s favorite of the Mad Dog (mozzarella, pepperoni, mild sausage, ground beef, and MOD red sauce) to the Caspian (mozzarella, gorgonzola, BBQ chicken, barbecue sauce, and sliced red onions) to what feels like countless more. But you are never limited just to what’s on the board. You can modify (get it? MODify?) your pizza in any way you want starting with changing up the sauce from the traditional red sauce to Little Miss’s favorite garlic rub with olive oil or a white sauce or even pesto.
There are more toppings than I can count, and you can add as many or as few to your pizza as you choose at no additional charge. This means Mister Man and Little Miss can create their own pizzas for a reasonable cost and I don’t have to play bad cop questioning whether they really want one more topping for yet another $1.50. While there are the traditional pizza toppings, there are also plenty of others that you don’t see every day that make for a fantastic pizza.
My personal favorite is a MOD size pizza with a light white sauce topped with sundried tomatoes, ricotta, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and kalamata olives that gets baked then topped with a pesto drizzle and fresh arugula. This pizza – whether you top it like I do or make your own version – is $7.87 at my location, and it’s filling enough that I eat just half my pizza then grab a box and save the rest for lunch the next day. My husband and kids and eat a whole MOD pizza in one sitting without feeling overly stuffed, however.
This time around, my husband ordered the seasonal pizza that was just released – the Cooper! This dream is available until June 30 and features roasted asparagus along with red peppers, Italian sausage, red onion, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and fresh basil. He was generous enough to let me snag a bite before it disappeared, and it was delicious. I may be adding some of that roasted asparagus to my own pizzas going forward!
One of my favorite features of MOD Pizza is that is it allergy friendly. Little Miss has a dairy allergy, but they can accommodate that easily. They offer Daiya cheese, and they change gloves before preparing her pizza to ensure that it’s safe for her. While the traditional red sauce (plus the white sauce and pesto) have dairy in them, the garlic rub and barbecue sauces are dairy free. And the topping possibilities she can enjoy are endless. She usually goes for a few different meats and some pineapple before getting that dairy free cheese. She absolutely loves her pizza – and the fact that she can order “like everyone else” here, something that usually isn’t so easy.
For those with gluten issues, there is also a gluten free crust option. While MOD Pizza doesn’t recommend this for those with celiac disease and other gluten allergies, from personal experience, I have several friends who have been safely able to eat the MOD Pizzas with no ill effects. The staff is always knowledgeable about allergies and what items do and do not have dairy or gluten, and they are careful about avoiding cross contamination as best they can. It isn’t a dedicated facility, but I love that the options are there – and we’ve brought many a friend to MOD Pizza for these reasons alone.
Along the same lines, the entire restaurant is nut free. Even the pesto is made without nuts, so those with nut allergies can relax completely. And yes, the pizza dough is vegan, as well. The awareness and sensitivity towards allergies is yet another mark that sets MOD Pizza apart. Have an allergy or food sensitivity? Check out the MOD Pizza nutritional and allergen information menu online or ask in store, as every store keeps updated and detailed information on hand.
Allan also let me know that MOD Pizza is moving towards making their meats antibiotic and hormone free, in addition to removing nitrates from those that have them. The pepperoni has already been replaced with a nitrate free version, and the chicken has no antibiotics or hormones. As they finish finding sustainable and long term sources for the remaining meats that provide the same great taste customers require, MOD Pizza will be making a much bigger deal about this, but I applaud the strides they’re making already.
Once you place your order and pay, you are able to choose a seat to wait for your name to be called at the counter to pick up your pizza. They are ready in a matter of minutes – their 800 degree ovens cook the pizzas in about 3 minutes, and if you’d like to add something to finish it, you can always ask for it to be added if you forgot when you started your pizza adventure. In addition to my favorite pesto drizzle, you can also choose BBQ swirl, hot buffalo sauce, red sauce dollops, ranch, balsamic fig glaze, and sri-rancha. These are fancy pizzas for not a fancy price!
In addition to the standard MOD size, there are three other options when ordering. You can get a Mini (a smaller version of the pizza), a Mega (a double decker pizza fused together with sauce and cheeese – something I’ve not yet been brave enough to try myself!), and pizza salads (which is a salad ON your pizza crust). MOD Pizza also offers cinnamon sticks and garlic strips as a side to round out your meal, another option that I’ve still yet to try but ohhh they look delicious.
Of course, there are also beverages. For the adults who choose, there are beer and wine offerings, and my husband and mom can attest to their complementary nature to the pizza. My dad almost always orders a milkshake, something I wouldn’t have expected to be a good foil to a pizza but one that he enjoys and that works surprisingly well. Just like the pizzas, you can order a straight milkshake and add mix-ins to it at no charge ranging from sea salt toffee to cookie dough to cappuccino crunch and more. Me? I always order the lemonade. It’s served at a fountain (with traditional pop also available) and has not just regular lemonade and iced tea but a marionberry lemonade that is to die for.
I could go on and on about why MOD Pizza is my kids’ request anytime we have a plan to eat out for dinner, but this may be something you need to experience for yourself. If you aren’t near the Naperville location opening April 28, check to see if there is a location near you or opening near you soon. With the rapid expansion MOD Pizza is undergoing, in all likelihood, you’ll have one close to your home soon!
Even better? MOD Pizza has offered to give one lucky reader five (5) free pizza coupons to enjoy at a local restaurant. Think you’re ready to enjoy a fresh, hand-made pizza? Enter below, and don’t forget to leave a comment on my blog telling me how you would top YOUR favorite MOD Pizza!