Friday, February 26, 2021

Urban Pie Uncured Pepperoni with Creamy Rosa Sauce


Okay, we're back. 

My computer was so screwed up that it would have literally cost more to repair than purchase a new one, so I did the latter. 

It sucks, but that's the last 11 months for you, right?

I've had my eye on this pizza for quite a while. Urban Pie has what is probably the most attractive packaging (to my eye, of course) of any frozen pizza brand. And the one pie of theirs that I did try was decent. And in the world of frozen pizza, decent is often much better than average. 

It had been so many weeks that I forgot to take a photo of the pizza before I popped it in the oven, as I usually do. My bad. 

The best part of the pizza? The pepperoni. It tasted just like the pepperoni you get in a great pizzeria. Full of flavor, slightly charred around the edges, and small pools of fat residing in each cup. 

It was also the saltiest pepperoni I have ever tasted on a frozen pizza. No doubt about that. 

The creamy rosa sauce was tasty but, instead of offering a nice foil to the pepperoni, it was almost completely drowned out by the saltiness of the meat. In other words, it wasn't necessary. This sauce would have been better utilized on another pizza. 

The crust was your generic crispy, flavorless crust. With a softer and tastiest crust, this would have been four slices, no question. I'm tempted to make it four slices in spite of that crappy crust... but I just can't. It's a solid three-and-half slices, but, since I do not use a half-slice rating... 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, January 29, 2021

A Brief Intermission

My computer crashed and my pizza photos are unavailable at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be back next Friday. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic & Pesto Pizza with Deep Fried Crust

Trader Joe's has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to frozen pizzas. I cannot remember the last time they offered a new one that I was not at least willing to try. 

(I'm not the biggest fan of pesto, but I do not hate it or anything, however - if this had been another brand, I probably would have passed.)

Also, "deep fried crust".... hell yes. 

I'm not entirely sure what is meant by "Naples style crust." I was in Naples once but I was a teenager. And drunk most of the time. I remember eating pizza; I do not remember what it tasted like. 

As with all Trader Joe's pizzas of late, there was a LOT of crust. However, at least they let you know that up front: the photo on the box is accurane.

It was... good. I can't be any more effusive. The flavors were not bad. It's just that they were so bland. 

This is my main complaint with pesto sauce. It's a good complement to pasta on occasion but it's not flavorful enough to be used as a base for a pizza. Unless you're going to add bold flavors, don't use pesto. 

However, that gave me an idea. 

I reduced balsamic vinegar. 

And drizzled it over the pizza, This made it MUCH better. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

(THE RATING WITH A BALSAMIC VINEGAR REDUCTION: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•)

Friday, January 15, 2021

Whole Foods 365 Thin Crust Margherita

Do you remember the first Whole Foods pizza I tried? It was barbecue chicken back in October and I was shocked at how much I liked it. 

So I bought several more. And hated the next two I tried - rising crust pepperoni and thin crust supreme. 

This Margherita is the last of them about which I will write. 

Ever. 

I did not hate this one like the previous two... but it wasn't very good. 

So I guess the BBQ chicken pizza was the outlier. 

Here's the deal: This Margherita pizza had a decent crust - it was one of the most buttery crusts I have ever had on a frozen pizza. And the sauce was very tomato-forward; unlike the last two 365 pizzas, this actually had good flavors. 

I wish there had been more pronounced garlic flavor, but then again I saw that about almost everything I eat that contains garlic. (In my mid-20s, I had a coworker who was half-Mexican, half-Salvadoran, and that dude could eat spicier foods and more garlic than anyone I have ever met. One day, the two of us decided to order a pizza for lunch and requested TRIPLE garlic on it. It was the only pizza of my life where I shrugged and said "Okay, yeah, that was too much garlic." Jose agreed.)

But overall, this thing was just too boring. 

So I have now eaten four Whole Foods pizzas. One was delicious, two were not good, and this one was completely middle-of-the-road.

I don't use half-slice ratings, but if I did, this one would be the exact definition of two-and-a-half. The reason I'm going to bump it up to three is that this pie's blandness served as a perfect vehicle for adding hot sauce. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, January 8, 2021

WisePies Hatch Green Chile Four Cheese

 
I'll give it to WisePies - their packaging is cool. The box invokes memories of many of the great pizzerias I have visited on vacations in New York City over the years, to say nothing of the 18 months that I lived in Brooklyn. The red and white striping, the cool hat in the logo... I had hopes that this pizza would be good. 

Spoiler alert: The packaging is the best part of the pizza. By far. 

First of all, WisPies is based in Albuquerque. So I don't know why they chose their name. 

(There is also a pizza place in Albuquerque called Goodfellas, which just happens to be the name of my favorite movie... and it was one of the three worst pizzas I have ever tried.) 

Second... the company did not originate as a classic pizzeria, but rather a fast food business, and it's now closed. Does that inspire good feelings? 

Hatch green chiles are delicious. It was disappointing to find such a meager amount. 

Oh boy. 

Where to begin. 

Let's start with the crust. 

When people say they hate frozen pizza crust, this is exactly of what they are speaking. Flavorless and tasting stale even when baked. 

I roll my eyes when someone says a crust tastes "like cardboard." First of all, it is perhaps the biggest clichΓ© in food, but more importantly... who the fuck has ever eaten cardboard? How do you know what cardboard tastes like? Can't you find any other way to put down a crust?

That being said, if I ever did take a bite of cardboard, I would not be shocked to find it tastes like this. 

The Hatch chiles were some of the worst I have ever had. A great Hatch chile - and freshly-roasted Hatch chiles are one of the great foods in the world - contains a depth of earthy flavors and spices that make you wonder why you don't put Hatch chiles on everything you eat. 

These had no flavor and no spice whatsoever. They might as well have been bell peppers.

The pizza sauce was the lone highlight of the pie: it tasted like roasted tomatos and fresh herbs. I wish they had put any of the effort that went into making the sauce into the rest of the pizza, too. 

WisePies offers other flavors but this was such a staggering disappointment that there is no way I will ever try any of them. 

THE RATING: πŸ•

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year

I did not eat any frozen pizza this week, but I have two planned for today while I watch college football, so I will be back next week for sure. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Kroger French Bread Pizza (Three Meat) & a Hot Sauce Tasting

Merry Christmas, folks. I can't imagine many people will be checking out this blog on Christmas Day, so this isn't going to be the best frozen pizza I'll ever write about. 

You may remember a few weeks ago, I was shocked at how good a Stouffer's french bread pizza tasted after going more than 20 years without trying one. I decided to try another french bread pizza soon, if they opportunity presented itself.

So when I was Kroger offered several flavors of french bread pizza, all on sale for $1 each, I jumped at the chance. 

It was not particularly attractive, either cooked or uncooked. 

And it wasn't particularly flavorful, either. I was not surprised. Nor was I disappointed. Store-brand items like this, especially with a $1 price tag, or not designed to be gourmet. The chief selling point is not the item, but rather the price. 

But it wasn't bad. It lacked the umami presence of Stouffer's, but it did the job. 

I don't drink like I used to, but if I did, I would make it a point to always keep these in the freezer for those evenings when I have a lot of beer and need something in my stomach.  

I decided to liven up the pizza by adding some of my favorite hot sauces. Behold:  

Tabasco Cayenne Garlic. 

Hank Sauce "Cilantktro." Stupid name; delicious sauce. 

And, what is probably my favorite hot sauce - also with a stupid name - Texas Champagne. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, December 18, 2020

Donato's Seriously Meaty

I have written over the last year - most noticeably about Trader Joe's pizzas - how disappointing it is when the toppings of a frozen pizza stop well short of reaching the crust. I am pretty used to it at this point, though TJ's has taken it to extreme heights - er, depths - lately.

Which is why I was pleased to see a frozen pizza for sale recently that advertises right on the box "edge to edge toppings." I immediately purchased it. 

And I was pleased upon unboxing the pizza: There are lots of toppings and many of them extend to the edge. 

This is one of those things where your mileage may vary. 

For me, there were too many toppings. The combination of Provolone cheese, pepperoni, ham, and bacon made this the saltiest food I have eaten in years. I could not finish half of it, and even with that amount, I drank perhaps a half-gallon of water over the next couple of hours.

Still, it wasn't bad. The crust did nothing to distinguish itself but the sauce, and particularly the sausage, were very tasty. 

And in a world where so many frozen pizzas skimp on the toppings, I can't hold it against Donato's for including too many.  

When I was a kid, it's possible I would have loved this pizza. But I haven't been a kid for a long time, and I most likely won't get one of these again.

But I'm not going to tell you to avoid it. If you like salty foods more than I - or if you're drunk when you eat this and need it to soak up the alcohol - you might enjoy this pizza very much. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, December 11, 2020

Screamin' Sicilian Thin & Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch

Screamin' Sicilian debuted a few years back and I tried them pretty quickly, finding them to be much better than your average frozen pizza. But I haven't eaten them too many times, for two reasons. First, while they're better than average, that's not saying much when it comes to frozen pizza. It's like being the valedictorian of summer school or the best defensive player on the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. 

Second, when these pizzas are not on sale, they are generally priced around 9, sometimes 10 dollars. That's not outrageous - I spend more money on food than anything else in my life, by a wide margin - but it's just a little bit more than it should be. If I'm paying that much for a frozen pizza, I expect it to be something I love, not merely something I find "better than average."

A couple of weeks ago I noticed, for the first time, that Screamin' Sicilian now offers thin & crispy pizzas - in their typically irreverent way, the box announces "I'm Thin & Crispy."

I opted to try the "Chicken Bacon Ranch" flavor, despite the fact that I have yet to have one of that variety that I truly enjoy. I mean, I could have gone for the pepperoni, but why not take a chance? 

As with the other Screamin' Sicilian pizzas I have tried, there was a decent amount of toppings. This one did not have quite as many as I am used to, but it was by no means skimpy. 

Part of this is fantastic. Part of it is truly awful. 

Want more details? Okay. 

The sauce was better than I ever could have imagined a "ranch sauce," to be. While I do not hate ranch, I do not particularly like it, almost always finding it boring. This was neither boring nor bland. And the cheese was good, too. Often cheese on a frozen pizza doesn't melt so much as it merely gets softer. This cheese melted into a tasty pool. 

However, the chicken was the most rubbery, flavorless chicken I believe I have ever tasted on a frozen pizza. In the past, I have found Screamin' Sicilian's toppings to be quite good; it is surprising that their chicken could be this awful. 

Ditto the crust. While the thicker crust of other Screamin' Sicilian pizzas have been pretty good, this thin crust was terrible. 

It's disappointing and, quite frankly, shocking, that they could nail the cheese and ranch sauce but screw up the rest so completely. I will never get another one of their thin crust pizzas. 

(However, they also now offer a crust made with beer... if I can find one anywhere - it does not appear they are currently sold in my area - I will absolutely be getting one of those.)

THE RATING: πŸ•

Friday, December 4, 2020

Whole Foods 365 Thin Crust Supreme

I took advantage of Whole Foods 50%-off sale on frozen pizza at the beginning of November. This is the penultimate pizza I purchased during that time. 

I'm not going to go into a long rant; I'll keep it simple. This frozen pizza was the definition of insipid.

The flavors weren't bad. They were nonexistent. 

There were not enough toppings. It's tempting to say that more of them might have helped, but then again, the toppings that did exist were so flavorless, I do not believe more of the would have made any difference.  

The first 365 pizza I tried, the BBQ Chicken, was so good that I thought I had stumbled upon an untapped resource for frozen pizza. It turns out, that was the outlier. All the rest of them have sucked. 

And this was the worst. By far.

THE RATING: πŸ•

Friday, November 27, 2020

American Flatbread Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon

Another of those 50%-off pizzas from the two-week sale Whole Foods offered at the beginning of the month. 

I have noticed American Flatbread pizzas for years but never tried one - never had the inclination to try one, to be honest. Perhaps it's the pretentious name; perhaps just the fact that they look kind of boring. 

But, hey, if I'm not going to try it with a 50% discount, I'm not ever going to try it, right? 

Out of the box, it looked every bit as boring as I expected it to. The bacon was concentrated around the center of the pie. The pepperoni was almost nonexistent. 

The box advertises "fresh herbs." What does that mean when they're on a frozen pizza? That they didn't use dried herbs? Who gives a shit? They're still frozen. 

I cooked it for the recommended amount of time, which caused the cheese to burn. I know some people prefer their pizzas this way. I am not one of them.

As for taste? Not bad. Not good. Flavorless. 

The crust was better than average, though of course with frozen pizza, that is a low bar to clear. 

I would have been very disappointed if I had paid full price for this only to find the meager amount of insipid toppings. 

I ended up sprinkling salt and pepper on top, drizzling it with olive oil, and eating it that way - a kind of vaguely-flavored breadsticks. 

I will not be getting one of these again. I will not be getting any American Flatbread pizzas again, not even at 50% off. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, November 20, 2020

Whole Foods 365 Rising Crust Pizza (Pepperoni)

 
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Whole Foods had their pizzas on sale for half-price, and I loved their BBQ chicken pizza, so I went back and bought a few more. 

The pepperoni was one of the most attractive I have ever seen out of the box. 

After cooking, it was, without question, the least attractive. They certainly are not joking when they call it "rising crust" - half of it swelled up like a cartoon character's head after being hit with an anvil. 

Ignoring the way it looked, how was the taste? 

Meh. 

It wasn't bad, but it was way too doughy, the flavor of which drowned out everything else. I could not even taste the pepperoni; it might as well have been a cheese pizza. 

I will not be getting this again at half-price. I sure as hell won't be getting it at full price. 

If I am offered one for free... I'd probably say no thanks. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•

Friday, November 13, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Mozzarella Piccolo (little) Pizza

"It's an authentic Italian pizza, constructed on naturally fermented dough in a wood burning oven in the food loving region of Bologna."

That's what it reads on the box and my memory drifts back to a rainy afternoon in youth that I once spent in the "food loving region of Bologna." 

Wanna know where I ate lunch? 

McDonald's. 

(And it would not be the last McDonald's meal of the trip.) 

When they say that youth is wasted on the young, this is exactly what they're talking about. 

Anyway, you know my thoughts on Trader Joe's. I love the place. Rarely do I purchase an item I do not like. Even more rare that it is one of their pizzas. 

So I happily tried this one. 

Charmingly, the box instructs you to "cook and serve" - in case you have never before had a frozen pizza and are struggling with the concept - so I cooked it and served it (to myself). 

It's small, but then again it says so right there in the name, so I can't complain. If you have an appetite smaller than mine (odds are, you do) you could probably eat this with a salad for a meal. I would need more. 

I suppose it would be somewhat elegant to cook a couple of these and serve them with wine at a cocktail party, though as I write these words in November of 2020, I would not recommend doing that anytime soon.

The dough is rather dense, resembling stale breadsticks more than great pizza dough. The cheese and sauce are a pleasant combination but there is not enough of it. The tomatoes are inoffensive. This may sound like damning with faint praise, but remember, I do not like tomatoes so this is actually quite a compliment. 

This wasn't bad; it just wasn't particularly good. I'm not sure why Trader Joe's felt the need to create this one. I wish they would have tried something a little more adventurous. 

I do not plan to get this again for myself. However, I hope to one day do my aforementioned idea of serving these with some wine to guests. 

THE RATING: πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•