Few foods are shared the way pizza is, but Medford's newest chain eatery seeks to make it even more personal.
I've made a couple of visits to MOD Pizza, a new, casual spot at 171 Rossanley Drive, and I'm charmed by the restaurant's rather simple premise: Extra toppings don't cost extra.
For one price, diners order their own personal "artisan-style" pizza in Subway fashion, choosing what they want before it goes in the oven. There more than 30 choices, including five sauces, six cheeses (one is dairy-free), 16 veggies, nine meats and six finishing "drizzles." There are also a dozen standbys you can order by name, such as the meat-focused "Mad Dog," or barbecue chicken "Caspian."
Three crust sizes are offered: the six-inch Mini Mod ($4.47) for light eaters, the 11-inch Mod ($7.47) and the double-decker 11-inch Mega Mod ($10.47). Those who don't want any toppings can save a dollar from any crust and order the "Maddy." (Menu prices corrected)
In practice, it was rather trying to rethink how I buy pizza. Minutes after I passed the menu board and got to the order counter, I couldn't remember what was supposed to go on the pizza I'd picked.
On my first visit, I went for the "Dominic." It's supposed to have a garlicky white sauce, Asiago cheese, sliced onion, tomatoes and chopped fresh basil, but staff forgot the basil, and I forgot to insist. Despite the omission, my pizza was hot, bubbly and crispy, with that slight char common with brick-oven crusts.
Neither visit was particularly short, but I timed my second visit at exactly 50 minutes from when I stepped in line at 12:24 p.m. Monday to the moment they said my pizza was ready at 1:14. That's plenty of time to think about why the sign says "Superfast." The line-averse may prefer ordering online at www.modpizza.com.
My Mega MOD "Calexico" was almost worth the wait, though. It has spicy buffalo wing flavors such as blue cheese, chicken, mozzarella, jalapenos and hot sauce. I "modded" mine with a pink Sri-rancha swirl.
The spot, open since the first week of February, clearly isn't firing on all cylinders yet, but there's plenty for those not in a hurry to like.
Inside, the restaurant feels hip and cosmopolitan. Staff seem free to express themselves with piercings, tattoos and unconventional accessories such as choker necklaces, not to mention attire that makes staff look comfortable and like themselves. The hoodies and company graphic tees look less like a chain restaurant uniform and more like something off the Urban Outfitters rack.
Medford has long had some other "cool" pizza spots (Jackson Creek and Kaleidoscope rise to mind), but those spots don't sell hand-spun shakes. MOD sells the standard strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, plus a rotating seasonal flavor. I'd get my raspberry shake again.
It's designed to be fun inside, with '60s-style "Summer of Love" graphics all around and cheeky phrases on the walls, such as "Flour Power," and rock-music nerds will likely enjoy the soundtrack inside. Uptempo cuts from the likes of Devo, David Bowie, and The Animals, along with bluesy new tunes from bands such as Cage the Elephant, make for a lively environment that more than once had me updating Spotify playlists while shuffling in line.
MOD is open from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.