Pizzeria restaurants, which feature handcrafted pizzas, unlimited toppings and vegetarian food selections are a growing trend in Montgomery County, and one of the more recent local additions to the market is Pieology on Shady Grove Rd. in Gaithersburg.

Pieology was founded in 2010 by Carl Chang, but the chain was first brought to Maryland in 2016. There are currently 142 locations in the U.S. with Maryland having two — one in Shady Grove and another in Bethesda.

“Pieology is not just a place where you work at, it’s a place where you meet people and they become your family,” original Shady Grove location manager Diana Nauarrete said.

The focal point of Pieology is the option for customers to build their own personal pizza with unlimited toppings for the price of $9.95. After customers personalize their pizza to fit their tastes, it is then baked in a stone oven behind the counter and served in less than 10 minutes. Aside from pizza pies, customers with special diets can find a variety of options such as vegetarian salad items, gluten-free and whole wheat dough, and vegan cheese.

“I really liked their menu choices because they had things for everyone to enjoy,” sophomore Emma Clark said.

The handcrafted white and whole wheat doughs are made from scratch every day. Compared to &pizza, Pieology has a thinner and more flavorful crust along with a wider variety of toppings. Furthermore, there is an option for a house-made PieRise Thick crust. Pieology also offers original beverages to accompany meals including freshly brewed iced teas, botanical infusions and custom lemonades.

Even though the Pieology franchise is small, it is more well-known than &pizza. Pieology locations can be seen in 23 different states across the U.S. whereas &pizza is only in five states.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is modern with simple, unique decor that is meant to inspire people. The walls are covered with quotes from individuals such as Mother Teresa, Benjamin Franklin and Wayne Gretzky. Even though Pieology is a small restaurant, the lines are shorter than &pizza and there is more space for customers to eat.

Because of the few franchise locations in the U.S., Pieology has become a hidden treasure for people of all ages to relax and enjoy their freshly-made meals. Their cheap prices and delicious menu items will keep customers coming back for more and is sure to become a community staple.

“We’re here to nourish and inspire– to serve creativity– and celebrate people coming together to connect,” the Pieology website states. “It’s a bigger vision. One filled with purpose. For pizza, people and passion.”