Friday, February 28, 2020

The Dish Famous Pizza (Double Pepperoni)

It is very rare that I come across a frozen pizza of which I have never before even heard. So you can imagine my surprise to be shopping in a neighboring state and discovering not only a new (to me) frozen pizza, but a deep dish one at that.

Apparently "The Dish Famous Pizza" is a restaurant and bar that opened in 1997 and began selling frozen pizzas at some point since. They are mostly sold in the Midwest, with a few scattering of markets in the Intermountain West.

I'm about to tell you something about myself that might be considered dorky, but whatever: I usually bring an ice chest with me when on a road trip. You know, in case I see things I want to bring home with me that require refrigeration.

The pizza looked attractive when I removed it from the box. A piece of crust broke off, though I believe that was my fault for dropping the box in transit.

I have never seen a frozen pizza that instructs you to first microwave it before cooking in the oven. Oh well. I don't mind.

This is what it looked like out of the microwave. It felt soggy in my hands, though perhaps that is a good sign that it had been defrosted in the middle.

After 15 minutes, I removed it from the oven and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I had high hopes: it smelled fantastic, like a pizza fresh out of the oven in a great pizzeria.

It was almost two inches high, as well. 

(I photographed it next to a Coke can so you can get a sense of its height. But I did not drink the Coke, as I do not much care for soda with pizza. Most of the time I just drink water, though beer, wine, and iced tea are all preferable to soda.)

The sauce was delicious, one of the best pizza sauces I have ever tasted. 

Unfortunately, that was the only great thing about the pizza. 

The "Double Pepperoni" were just a few scattered, flavorless slices. I would hate to see what their version of a "single pepperoni" looks like. 

But the worst offender was the crust. It tasted of stale french bread, and there was way too much of it. The reason for the pizza's height has nothing to do with a generous amount of toppings. In fact, there was very little in the way of cheese or pepperoni. 

The pizza is tall because it has a thick crust. That is not deep dish. 

If the bread had been good, I could have forgiven this. But it wasn't.

Instead of buying this, you would be better off getting a fresh piece of French bread and making your own version. It is guaranteed to be better than this. The delicious pizza sauce is the only thing that keeps this from being a one-slice rating. 

THE RATING: 🍕🍕

Friday, February 21, 2020

Trader Joe's Pizza Parlanno

I love sausage... when it's good. The problem is that far too much sausage is simply not good.

I grew up a few blocks from a wonderful butcher shop, one of those butchers owned by the same family for more than half a century, the kind of place that takes extreme pride in their product. They made some of the best sausage I have ever tasted.

"I've never gotten a chunk of fat in one of your sausages," I remarked to the proprietor one day.

"And you never will," he replied, in a tone that was not arrogant but factual. He knows how good his product is, because he has overseen its production for decades.

"It just kills me what Farmer John is able to get away with," he continued. "If we had the means, we could put them out of business."

The point of this anecdote is that I rarely eat frozen pizzas with sausage, because the kind of sausage you find on frozen pizza is the exact opposite of that made-with-pride sausage from my local butcher.

But there are a couple of exceptions. One of them, I will write about soon; today I will tell you about Trader Joe's Pizza Parlanno.

When this first appeared more than a decade ago, it was labeled Pizza Palermo, after the city in Sicily. However, there is a brand of frozen pizza made in Wisconsin known as Palermo's Pizza, so TJ's had to change the name.

In addition to sausage, the pizza contains pepperoni, roasted peppers, and roasted onions.

As with all TJ's pizza, it cooks in the oven in a short amount of time. It seems like TJ's pizzas require less time than any other brand, but that can't possibly be true, can it?

The sausage is great but the peppers and onions are what truly make the pizza. Have you ever had a great sausage sandwich with roasted peppers and onions? There is an umami presence to the whole thing, and that is echoed here.

I want to say the pizza sauce is delicious, but to be honest it's probably just the combination of all the other flavors.

I have tried every frozen pizza that Trader Joe's has offered this century, and the Pizza Parlanno is my favorite. It's possible that if those beloved five-star pizzas of my youth were brought back into existence and I tried them next to the Parlanno, I would like the latter more.  (But it's also possible I would not, as those were amazing.)

As with all Trader Joe's products, the price is great: This cost $4.99.

I really love this pizza.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕 🍕🍕

Friday, February 14, 2020

Outsiders Pizza Company Detroit Style Pizza (Three Cheese)

Have you ever heard of Detroit-style pizza? If not, do not feel bad; I myself was not familiar with it until only a couple of years ago. 

It is similar to deep-dish in appearance, though it is best to think of it more as "thick crust." The dough in a Detroit-style pie is a buttery, flaky crust reminiscent of European-style pastries. 

I must confess: I've never had any in a pizzeria. I've been to Michigan twice though never Detroit. 

It looks kind of like a lasagna, no? It's not very heavy, though: the crust is surprisingly lightweight. 

It definitely tastes good. The sauce is relatively insipid (though I feel that way about almost all frozen-pizza sauces) but the cheese was tangy and pleasantly browned on the edges.

The light and buttery crust was more reminiscent of a good Italian restaurant's freshly-made breadsticks. I would have preferred slightly more toppings and slightly less bread, but it is what it is.

The downside to this pizza, and I feel slightly ridiculous bringing it up, is the nutrition. I know, it's pizza. It's bread topped with cheese. There is no way it can be healthy. No one has ever said "I want to eat healthy tonight; let's order a pizza." It's best just not to think about nutrition when eating pizza and do another 30 minutes on the treadmill.

But it's impossible not to be taken aback by the label on this pizza: 2150 calories and 115 grams of fat, a whopping 145% of your daily recommended intake. That seems excessive. You could eat eight Trader Joe's Bambino Pizzas, or one of these.

That being said, it does taste good and I'm sure I will buy one again, perhaps to put out while watching a game with friends or family, or maybe cut into ten pieces to serve as an appetizer at a cocktail party. 

I will not eat one by myself for dinner again, though. 

THE RATING: 🍕🍕 🍕

Friday, February 7, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic Family Size Cheese & Tomato Pizza

A new frozen pizza from Trader Joe's - I spied this for the first time two weeks ago - is always going to get my attention. There is of course no guarantee that they will be good, but the odds are better than even; TJ's has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt over the years.

I love this. 

"For crispier crust, bake an additional minute." 

You know, in case you do not understand how ovens work. 

"Try using this pizza as a base for your favorite pizza toppings." 

Translation: We know this is a boring pizza but if you add tasty ingredients to it, it will be better. 

I was not impressed with the size. If your family is larger than one person, I don't know how you can consider this "family size." (I had no trouble eating it myself.)

I suppose if your family is two people and you share a salad and a vegetable, you could split this. 

Fortunately, things picked up considerably after cooking the pizza. The sauce is delicious, reminiscent of freshly-made sauce from a restaurant or local pizzeria rather than the clunky, salty, straight-from-a-can pizza sauce that you often find with other brands.

The crust was light and airy and the cheeses actually tasted like cheese, not merely some highly-processed version that you have spent your life avoiding since Grilled Cheese Day in your elementary school cafeteria.

I would not sully this pizza by adding a meat topping, though some fresh basil or perhaps chili flakes would be a welcome addition.

This is slightly more expensive than your average Trader Joe's pizza ($5.99), but even so, it's still a better value than any almost any other brand.

I have opted never to rate a pizza with a half-star (or slice, as the case may be), as that always seems like a cop-out. It has not been an issue until this pizza. It is better than my three-slice rating, but I felt like I would be overrating it a tad to give four slices.

Then I realized two things: 1) It's a blog about frozen pizza. Don't take yourself so seriously. And 2) It's Trader Joe's. If any company deserves to be bumped up slightly, they do.

THE RATING: 🍕🍕🍕 🍕