Friday, July 9, 2021

Totino's Party Pizza (Triple Meat)

Totino's "Pizza Rolls" are probably more well known than their frozen pizza. Or at least they were when I was in high school: every friend of mine who smoked marijuana swore by them. But I only remember trying pizza rolls once, and I did not think much of them. (I was part of the crowd who drank beer, and our vice was a local taco stand named Rick's.) 

They also make small frozen pizzas. I spotted one at the store the other day for $1 and thought I might as well give it a try. 

I'm not sure why they call it a "Party Pizza." It's not big enough to share with anyone, let alone a party. 

Or does the name show a self-awareness by the company that their products are enjoyed by people who like to party? Is the name a wink? 

I have no idea. 

It looked exactly as I expected it would.

But it tasted much better. 

I mean, I'm not saying it's anything you've been missing in your life, just that if you're looking for a cheap pizza to keep in the freezer for moments when you feel like making no effort, you could do a lot worse than this. 

If this had been expensive, I would have been annoyed. But the price tag matches the quality. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, July 2, 2021

Screamin' Sicilian Brazen Buffalo

I have featured two Screamin' Sicilian pizzas over the last 18 months: The Mambo Italiano, which I loved, and the Thin & Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch, which I hated. 

Next up: the Brazen Buffalo. I have long loved buffalo chicken pizzas, though to be honest, I almost never eat them anymore. (The last one I remember having before this was 9 years ago.) 

But once upon a time, I ate them at least once per week. BJ's Brewery and Old Chicago were my two favorites and I went there all the time. (Mostly to drink beer, but also to eat.)

Screamin' Sicilian pizzas are on the expensive side, so I was disappointed to see how little toppings there were on this. 

But, as long as it was tasty, I could forgive that. 

This is one of those occasions where I didn't like the pizza but I share the blame. 

It was too spicy.

Now, I like spicy foods. I pile jalapeΓ±os on tacos. I dunk egg rolls into Chinese hot mustard so spicy that it brings tears to my eyes. I love a beer from Colorado that includes chili peppers in it. 

But with pizza... I guess I don't like spicy. Not anymore. 

I added some pickled celery (something I just recently discovered that I love) to make it taste like a buffalo wing with celery. 

This was enjoyable. 

But still too damn spicy. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

(But, if you like spicy pizza, you may well love this.)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Signature Selects Spicy Barbecue Recipe Chicken with JalapeΓ±o Peppers

 

I'm always intrigued when a pizza describes itself as spicy. Usually they are not, but there are exceptions. 

Plus, this one was on sale at Market Street. I had no reason not to try it. 
 
I wish there had been more peppers, but at least they were attractive. 

I'll start with the good parts, because there were several.
  • The chicken was delicious. Sone of the best I have ever had on a frozen pizza. 
  • There was a decent amount of spice to the pizza. "Medium Hot" is an apt description. If you don't like spice, you will find this much too spicy to eat. But if you do like spice, you will be pleasantly surprised. 
  • The sauce had a pleasant flavor. 

But there was one negative, and it was a big one. 

The crust sucked. 

It's not surprising. Often, these "rising crust" pizzas are completely bland (as this one was) and contain so much dough that - even though it is bland - it still manages to overpower the other flavors (as this one did). 

If they used a thin crust with these exact toppings, it would be a great pizza, a four-slice rating, no doubt. 

But they didn't. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, May 28, 2021

Kroger Private Selection Five Cheese & Marmalade Thin Crust Pizza

I've been circling this one for a long time. 

On one hand, I like Kroger's Private Selection. 

On the other hand... marmalade as a pizza base? I am suspicious. 

It's attractive, at least. 

The Good: The five-cheese blend - mozzarella, edam, provolone, asiago, cheddar - was delicious, a great choice for a pizza-cheese blend. 

The Bad: The sauce was too sweet. I can't really fault them; they call it marmalade, after all. But it's not anything I enjoy on pizza. When I was a kid? I probably would have loved this. As an adult, I did not. 

The Ugly: The crust was awful. It was not thin crust, not by any possible definition. It was thick, flavorless, and distracting. 

With a couple of tweaks - perhaps some jalapeΓ±o to contrast with the marmalade - this could have been a very tasty pizza. Hell, with an actual thin crust, it would not have been bad. 

But... it was bad. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, May 14, 2021

Home Run Inn Uncured Pepperoni (Classic)

My trip to Colorado a few weeks ago was a tremendous amount of fun when it came to seeing old friends, drinking Colorado beer (overall, my favorite beer in America), eating food, and admiring the Rocky Mountains.... but it sucked as far as acquiring frozen pizza. 

There were three that I was interested in purchasing and no place had them, despite claiming to on their websites. 

One such pizza I had wanted to try was Home Run Inn's "ultra-thin crust." But I couldn't find it. 

So I got one of their "classic" pizzas instead, opting for the pepperoni. 

It looks kind of weird, right? Something about the uniformity of the cheese creeps me out, but I can't quite place why. 

But, of course, I do not care at all about looks, only taste. 

This was my third Home Run Inn pizza. My first was a deep-dish variety many years ago that they no longer make. My second was the "Margherita with Sausage," which had some of the best toppings on a frozen pizza that I have ever eaten, and one of the absolute worst crusts. 

Unfortunately, this pepperoni pizza features the exact same lousy, dense, flavorless crust, but without enough delicious toppings to make it tolerable. 

That's why I had really wanted to try the ultra-thin pizza; I thought with less of that crust, it would be a much better pizza overall.

I'll keep looking for it, but I will probably never again eat one of these regular Home Run Inn pizzas. I dislike that crust too much. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, May 7, 2021

CPK Redux: A Very Special Edition of Frozen Pizza Fridays


A reader emailed me after I wrote about CPK's BBQ chicken pizza last week to ask if I had any other pictures of CPK frozen pizzas. 

I do indeed... although I do not believe they make any of these any more.  

Above is 'The Works" which was one of the worst frozen pizzas I have ever had. 

The "Sicilian." This was a decade ago and I do not remember how it was. 

The Jamaican Jerk Chicken. This was 9 years ago... but I still remember how it was. 

It was awesome. One of the best frozen pizzas of all time. 

Queso Fundido. The idea was better than the execution.

Gluten-free BBQ chicken. Very good for gluten-free frozen pizza. Merely average otherwise. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

CPK BBQ Recipe Chicken (Crispy Thin Crust)

If you're under the age of 35, you probably think of California Pizza Kitchen as the Chili's or Cheesecake Factory of pizza restaurants: a large chain with a massive, disparate menu of items, most of which many arrive at the restaurant frozen or precooked. 

And you are not wrong.

But, once upon a time, CPK was actually a delicious place. When I was a kid, there were only about 20 locations, all in California. The dough was made in-house, the vegetables and cheese were fresh, and it actually felt like you were in a pizza restaurant. The menu did not contain roasted salmon, asian dumplings, or multiple pastas 

There were a bunch of different pizzas, a few salads, and that was about it. I loved the place. 

Then Pepsi bought the chain, dramatically increased expansion, and started making the dough in a central location and shipping it frozen to the restaurants. Other items were no longer prepared fresh, but rather stocked frozen and reheated to order. 

A few years later, a private equity firm acquired the restaurant (it would not be the last time this happened) and my visits dropped from a-couple-of-times-per-month to about once per year. Often less. (Tomorrow will be May 2021; my last visit to a CPK was in August of 2012.) 

In a move that came as no surprise to anyone who knows the slightest thing about restaurant chains, CPK licensed their name to Kraft at the beginning of the century, who in turn started selling frozen pizzas bearing the CPK name. Just like Chili's, PF Chang's, TGIFriday's, and all the other chains that CPK has now become. 

And the frozen pizzas weren't bad. They weren't exactly good, of course, but, since CPK had been using frozen-and-defrosted dough in their restaurant kitchens for years, the new frozen line wasn't that different from the restaurant pizzas of the late 20th century. (Obviously, the frozen pizzas were nowhere near as good as the restaurant had been in its early days.)

It looks attractive, no doubt about that. Almost like a take-and-bake pizza, not something that has been frozen for weeks. 

Unfortunately, everything is done half-ass. 

With the exception of the crust. That wasn't half-ass. 

That was total ass. 

The crust was quite thin but without any flavor at all. I would have much preferred a tortilla. 

The sauce was kind of sweet, but not really. The chicken was kind of good, but not really. 

The red onions were of decent size, but, as with almost all frozen red onions, without flavor. 

If this pizza were priced around 4 or 5 dollars, I would give it three stars. It's not bad; it's just not good. 

But.. and this is a big but... CPK's frozen pizzas are some of the most expensive you will find. At Walmart, they're usually 8 bucks. At my local market - admittedly a relatively rural market that is literally the only market within 10 miles - they cost 10 bucks. 

That's just way too much for a frozen pizza unless it's great. And this ain't great. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, April 16, 2021

Road Trip

Happy Friday. 

I'm off to a different state today to see old friends, buy beer, and pick up a few frozen pizzas that I can't get around my neighborhood.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Kroger French Bread Pizza Supreme

 
A few months back, I told you of these Kroger pizzas that are perpetually on sale for $1 each. It wasn't particularly flavorful, but I found it to be decent, especially for that price. 

Today, I decided to try the "Supreme" version. 

I cooked it in the microwave for one minute, then the air fryer for three. 

You may think I'm BSing you here, but I assure you, I am not: it was some of the very best pizza sauce I have ever had on a pizza. 

I swear. 

It had the deep roasted-red-pepper flavor of Tombstone's pizza sauce, which I absolutely love and is the sole reason I ever eat Tombstone pizza, as their crust is absolutely terrible. 

The toppings were nothing special, though I do not believe anyone is expecting them to be at this price. 

But this sauce. Damn. I'm hesitant to buy another one because I doubt it will be as good. 

Oh, but if it is... 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, March 26, 2021

Trader Joe's Organic 3 Cheese Pizza

I wasn't terribly impressed with Trader Joe's take on a four-cheese pizza. 

So what are the odds that I will like the three-cheese version? 

There's only one way to find out. 

It looks the same as the four-cheese. 

It tasted... well, how should i put this... it tasted fine. 

But something was missing. 

(And no, not a fourth cheese.)

I kept expecting more flavor in each bite, and it just wasn't there. It reminded me of a decent Italian restaurant's breadsticks. Yeah, it's nice to snack on, but I don't want to eat it as a main course. 

It was satisfying, and on those occasions when a big snowstorm is coming and I load up on Trader Joe's frozen pizzas, I will still buy this one. It is an excellent platform for adding hot sauce, which is something I enjoy doing to cheese pizzas. 

But I don't understand why the carry both this pizza and a four-cheese version. It's redundant. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, March 12, 2021

Sam's Choice Thin Crust Philly Cheese Steak Pizza


There are almost no foods in the entire world better than a truly great cheesesteak. 

Unfortunately, there are almost no foods worse than a crappy cheesesteak. 

Ordinarily, I would not expect a cheesesteak to translate well to pizza. However... I said the exact same thing about a Cuban sandwich, and Kroger's take on the Cuban sandwich was one of the best pizzas to feature on this blog.

So... why not?

The frozen steak looked unappetizing. I mean, I'm not sure I have ever seen frozen steak that looked anything other than unappetizing, but still. 

The combination of the mozzarella and "creamy cheese sauce" was delicious. It reminded me of the beautiful grease bomb quality of a good cheesesteak. 

But that was the only good part about it. 

The green peppers were flavorless, as frozen peppers usually are. 

The steak was crappy but then again I have never had good steak on a pizza. In fact... I'm not sure if I have ever had any steak on a pizza before. Maybe flank steak at some point. But obviously it wasn't that memorable. 

If you're craving a cheesesteak, seek out a good one in your town. Don't get this pizza. I won't be getting it again. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•