Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review – An Aldi Product

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review“Mama Cozzi” is Aldi’s brand name for pizzas and related products. They come in a very wide variety of styles, both frozen and take and bake, and are value-priced like most all of Aldi’s products.  I’ve reviewed quite a few of them in the past, read some of them here.

I’m a pizza snob, but I find most of them a tick above “satisfactory.” They are certainly better than Dominos, Caesars, Pizza Hut and 755 of the frozen pizzas on the market.

They had a new one this week, “Tavern Inn” – in the frozen counter, and it appealed to me right away because the package bragged about “one half pound of real Wisconsin cheese,” and you could see the cheese was cut in thick shreds instead of the finely diced method most frozen pies use.  In my personal experience, I have found the former method of chees-ing on frozen pizzas makes for a better, and more even melt.

I thought this pie looked awfully familiar, and since Aldi employs a lot of brand name manufacturers to make their private label products, I would have been willing to bet this was made by Palermo’s in Milwaukee.  It resembles their “P’Mo’s” brand pizza.

But when I looked up the factory number, I found they are actually made by Minnesota pizza company Bernatellos, who labels include Bellatoria, Roma, Orv’s,  Real ‘Za, and “Brew Pub” and that’s the pie that Aldi’s Tavern Inn most closely resembles in appearance. Bernatellos plant is located in a distant northwestern exurb of Minneapolis, Maple Lake, pic below.

So popped this one in the oven, had picked out a combo sausage and pepperoni style, don’t know if there are others, didn’t look. It was done sooner than the package predicted for cook time, and I gotta say, I liked it.  Really.

It’s a cracker thin crust, in fact if you look at the bottom, there are bumps and docking marks that almost makes it look like a matzoh. About the same crunch as well. Ths sausage chunks are good-sized, important to me, and either the sausage or pepperoni had some nice heat to it, which I also like. The sauce leans a little sweet for my personal taste, but tolerable, and the “half pound of real Wisconsin mozzarella?”  Magnificent. Truly.

Aldi has been known to have some pizza styles that have come and gone, hope this isn’t one of them.

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review

Out of the box

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review

Out of the oven!

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review

Bernatellos Minnesota Factory

 

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review

Mama Cozzis Tavern Style Pizza Review

 

Lunch Mate Cooked Ham Review – An Aldi Branded Product

Lunch Mate Cooked Ham ReviewI have reviewed quite a few products found at Aldi, a global grocery retailer that focuses on value-priced items.

They are able to achieve lower costs by largely staying away from big brand names, and instead, creating their own brands and contracting the manufacture and packaging of them to quality co-packers and producers.

This product is typically used for sandwiches and similar purposes and is thin-sliced in equally sized rectangles. It achieves this quality being sliced off a “loaf” of ham, which is created from mechanically separated pork parts, water and spices. An image of the ingredients appears below.

For this time, Aldi has turned to the ham manufacturing expertise of Plumrose, USA, a division of Europe’s largest pork processor, Denmark’s Danish Crown Company. In the U.S., both for it’s own label and other outlets, Plumrose produces bacon, ham, deli counter and canned meat items.

Last year, Plumrose USA was purchased by Brazilian food giant, JBS, the largest meat processor in the world, with 150 plants and 200,000 employees.  JBS owns several brands you are familiar with, including Swift & Company, which in turn has a couple dozen pork and beef brands,  and Pilgrim’s Pride Chickens. These hams are made at the Plumrose plant in Booneville, MS, 100 miles southeast of Memphis, TN.

Back to the subject.  This type of ham is created on a basis similar as to seen in this video:  trimmed pork is marinated, further chopped, pressed in to a shape for market, and then smoked.

The result is a flavorful ham product, and Aldi’s is as good as any lunch meat style ham, and of course, priced much less than big brands.  Structural integrity of texture is important to me, that it closely resembles the mastication experience of whole muscle meat, and this comes close enough.

 

Lunch Mate Cooked Ham Review

 

Lunch Mate Cooked Ham Review

 

Lunch Mate Cooked Ham Review

Plumrose Mississippi Plant

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review – An Aldi Product

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza ReviewAnother Aldi product this week, actually did this one some time back, didn’t write it up. Mama Cozzi’s is the brand name the Aldi grocery chain has cooked up for their frozen and fresh (take and bake) pizzas.

I’ve tried a lot of them, including the one I wrote about directly below, and a “Mega Meat” thin crust previously. All of these are a terrific value, price wise and are mostly pretty good product.

Aldi contracts out all of their manufacturing, and this product is made by Better Baked Foods, out of North East, Pennsylvania, a burg parked between Cleveland and Buffalo.  They started in 1970 and have since built a large operation, which in addition to private label manufacturing, also has some of their own brands which was recently acquired by Minnesota pizza giant Schwans (Red Baron, Freschetta, Tonys). (Better Baked plant pictures below).

The French bread pizza comes in a two pack, different varieties, I chose pepperoni this time, and it’s not a microwave product. Given a choice with junk that gives you either option, I’m gonna pick a conventional oven every time, anyway.

The bread was crispy, the sauce benign, I liked the pepperoni, wished for more cheese, but overall, I was happy with it compared to “national brands.” It holds its own.

Like all Aldi products, it is value priced.  Aldi is currently on a tear in the US to have more fresh products in the store, remove product from cartons, and nicer lighting. The German chain currently has 10,000 stores worldwide.  There’s probably one or more near you.

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the box

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the oven

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Pennsylvania Factory

 

 

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

 

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review – Aldi In-House Brand

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Reviewoth Appleton Farms is Aldi’s in-house brand name for selected meat products.  I’ve reviewed quite a few of them, which you can read here, tho for some unfortunate reason, some of them are tagged “Applewood.” Oops.

I’ve even reviewed this particular product, bone-in butt ham, before, but it was made for Aldi by a different manufacturer and was injected with a brine solution, something that turns me off.

I’m delighted to report such is not the case with this one. This particular ham is made for Aldi by Fresh Mark, Inc., in Salem, Ohio. Pictures of the plant are below. They do contract manufacturing, private label and have some lines of their own like Sugardale and Superiors.

Now I’m a lazy cook, and there were long periods where I wouldn’t purchase anything “bone in” and it was pointed out to me on some occasion what I was missing, that food cooked with the “bone in” can be much more flavorful.  Hence you’re seeing a lot of bone-in steaks in high priced restaurants these days.

Second point, is that a real “ham” comes from the butt portion of the hog, tho you will find other products labeled as “ham,” that ain’t.  And under no circumstances should things like “turkey” ham be allowed to even exist.

I’ve been known to drive the back roads of places like Virginia, the Carolinas, Missouri, and Kentucky looking for small smokehouses – in search of ‘quality’ product, cured and smoked to perfection.

But for a value priced product, this is OK. It is VERY mildly seasoned and the smoke is barely detectable. It is fully cooked right out of the package.

On the occasion that I do pick these up, I spend a couple hours cutting them up into steaks, sandwich meat, fat and bone that I use in soups and bean concoctions.

Wanna try something different?  Throw one of these in a crock pot on low for 10 hours or so and have “pulled ham” sandwiches. Add barbecue sauce if you must.

But in the Carolinas, they have a special kind of “cue” they call “Gold” and instead of the meat being cooked or basted in a tomato based sauce, they use mustard, and that’s just fine.   Yes, slow-cooked butt with a mustard sauce.  Nice.

Aldi Tidbit.  Upgrading their stores.  More fresh produce. Products out of crates. Subdued lighting. Supposedly building a prototype down the street from me, I’ll keep you posted. Also adding stores lickety-split, in advance of a major competitor of theirs, LIDL, also from Germany, coming to the US. Presently both companies have about 10,000 stores (each) worldwide.

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Out of wrapper

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Ingredient List

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Ohio Factory – Full Frontal

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Ohio Factory With the Top Down

 

 

 

 

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Appleton Farms Bone In Butt Ham Review

Applewood Farms Bacon Review – Aldi In House Brand

Applewood Farms Bacon ReviewI’ve been a little hotter than usual for bacon. For about a year, I’ve been buying whichever pre-cooked brand was on sale.

Seemed like a no muss, no fuss opportunity to me, and often a lot cheaper than raw bacon.

Lately, I’ve noticed that most all of the pre-cook brands the slices are nearly translucent, and I like my bacon a little thicker.

Of course, there’s a certain joy of having that aroma waft through the house; it was one of the few ways I could motivate my ex to get out of bed. (At home anyway).

Applewood Farms is the in-house brand for bacon, sausages and ham at Aldi stores, a global chain of discount grocers. Aldi is part of the same German company that owns US lux foods retailer, Trader Joes.

I’ve reviewed a lot of Aldi products, including  braunschweiger, smoked sausage, ham, pre-cooked bacon, summer sausage, pizza and many others.

This bacon was more than satisfactory. Thick enough, flavorful, nice smokey aroma. I cooked the whole package at once, I bake bacon  (350 for about 12 minutes) on cookie sheets (some people cover their sheets with foil for quicker clean up).  There’s no flipping, less shrinkage, and your slices stay perfectly flat.

So I was happy. I’ll buy it again, as long as it stays price competitive, and with Aldi, you never have to worry about that.

Aldi contracts with established manufacturers to make products to its own recipes and specifications.  This bacon is produced in the Elkhart, Indiana plant (pictured below) of Plumrose USA, the American division of the European food company of the same name. Plumrose USA was sold in the past few weeks to the giant South American meat processor JBS.

They paid $230 million and picked up five plants and two distribution centers in the deal.

What did I do with my bacon? Why made a monster BLT of course!

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Cooked Aldi Bacon

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Impressive BLT

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Plumrose Indiana Plant

 

 

Applewood Farms Bacon Review

Parkview Hot Italian Sausage Review (Aldi’s Brand)

Parkview Aldi Sausage ReviewParkview is Aldi’s house brand for many of their meat products. Their ” Parkview Hot Italian Sausage,” is a smoked sausage, whereas most companies (and grocers) sell their Italian sausage as “fresh” (uncooked).  Smoked sausages like hot dogs, are fully cooked, so they only require a quick heat and eat, if that’s your preference.  This product is made for Aldi by Salm Partners in Denmark, WI.  They specialize in ‘cooked in the package’ meat products.

This is a “skinless” product meaning it’s not in a natural casing. The casing is made from collagen and is very thin, so that tactile experience that usually comes with biting into a sausage is not there.  It’s also truly “hot,” meaning it’s a lot spicier than most of the big name offerings.

I’ve reviewed other Parkview products in the past, including Hot and Spicy Smoked Sausage, Cocktail Links, and Beef Wieners. Aldi markets consistently reliable products at value prices.

Parkview Aldi Sausage Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parkview Hot Italian Sausage Review

Aldi Braunschweiger Review

Aldi Braunschweiger ReviewYou know I am generally OK with ALDI, the German owned budget grocery chain across the US.  They create their own brand names and go to top manufacturers to have the product made.  They retail for 25-50% of the “big name” brands.

“Deutsche Kuche” (translator: “German cuisine”) is the brand name they cooked up for some of their lunch meats and sausages.  They braunschweiger (liverwurst) is made for them by Washington, Missouri based Frick Meats.

It comes in a chub, and ingredients are straightforward: Pork liver, pork fat, water, potato starch, salt, dextrose, natural flavoring, sodium citrate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.

Besides being a great value, what I like about this brand is they actually use liver as an ingredient, and the taste comes through, as it should.  It’s a very fine emulsion, and spreads easily.  Good deal.

Aldi Braunschweiger Review

Aldi Braunschweiger Review

Frick Meat Plant

 

Aldi Braunschweiger Review

Aldi Smoked Knackwurst Review

Aldi Smoked Knackwurst ReviewUnder their own brand name of Deutsche  Kuche, Aldi sells a smoked knackwurst sausage manufactured for them by Salm Partners, of Denmark, WI.

In  Germany, “knackwurst” can refer to a wide variety of sausages, depending on the region of manufacture.  In the US, it generally refers to a plump, mildly seasoned pork sausage in a natural casing.

Aldi’s are VERY mild, similar to a hot dog, and they are packed into beef collagen casings.  It’s a very fine “grind.”

I like more flavor and/or spice, so these aren’t for me, but they are a good value.

Aldi Smoked Knackwurst Review

 

 

 

Aldi Smoked Knackwurst Review

Portland, OR – Geraldi’s Italian Eating Place

When the sign on the door says “25 years in business” (and hopefully it isn’t left over from the last guy), well, that’s a pretty good sign.

I’ve been in here before, had an Italian beef ‘hero’ (they called it “Chicago beef”) which was pretty good, as I recall. I didn’t ask them then, or today, if they made the roast in-house or purchased it. It’s not Vienna’s product, which I usually prefer.

Odd tho, when I was here before, I didn’t notice that they served pizza, and probably the reason was last time I was focused on getting a sandwich, or the fact it’s not on their printed menus, and/or, there is a very small sign offering it, and/or, everybody local already knows this. Or some combination of the above.

Somebody has said “you should try Geraldi’s pizza,” so I thought I would spend a leisurely afternoon alone there, munching a pie, reading the paper, at least that was my intent, but my intent was stabbed in the back by a domestic crisis of minuscule proportions.

So I told them to box up the pie for consumption in BurgerDogBoy’s testing lab, er, man cave, so he could eat, pout, smoke, and do the Sunday crossword simulaneously. Multi-tasking, as it were.

I noticed they had a standard two deck gas oven against the back wall (but didn’t notice if it was Blodgett or Baker’s Pride, so I knew what I was approximately in for in the finished product. I ordered sausage, pepperoni, and double cheese, very hard to find a pie place that offers green olives around here, one of my favorite toppings, especially the marinated green Silicians from Roma, the pizza suppliers. (or whomever distributes the standard in this category).

I didn’t watch assembly, so I have no idea if they roll the crusts on the spot, or what the other ingredients shape up like, tho I have a few clues from popping the cherry on the take home box. The sausage was bulk, hand-pulled in chunks, which I always prefer. It has a little kick to it. The pepperoni slices are larger than, say Hormel’s product of pizza, and it has a distinctive pepperoni flavor. No cupping or charring, either, so it’s a lean product. Real cheese produces the “stretch” when you lift a slice from the box, and also assures the toppings stay in place during the “lift.”

The sauce was a bit sweeter than my personal preference, but not enough to put me off the pie. It also could have been cooked a little longer, for my taste, but that was not a distraction either. The crust is neither thin nor thick, has some crisp and char on the edges, but the balance of it is doughy-chewy.

If I lived closer, this would be a regular stop for me, especially if I could persuade them to stock the olives. On Worstpizza.com‘s scale of 1-8 slices, I give Geraldi’s a solid 7. And that says a lot, coming from me!


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