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Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

Luigis Pizza Review

Luigi's Frozen Pizza ReviewContinuing to cut a swath through small Midwestern frozen pizza manufacturers, I happened upon Luigi’s brand, manufactured in the small town of Belgium, WI.  I’m not able to find much information about it online, nor do they have a website. I’m going to make a giant assumption here and opine this is yet another manufacturer that started out as a supplier to bars and restaurants and made the leap to retail. Stop the presses!  Upon further investigation, with a ‘similar logo’ and geographical proximity, it may be these pies originally came from the loins of a nearby restaurant, Luigi’s of Sheboygan. Maybe.

It’s also one of those times when I reached for one product and ended up bringing home another; usually I go for “all meat”, but ended up grabbing a supreme, which is topped with sausage, pepperoni, onion, green and red peppers.  The sausage bits are small and pre-cooked. The quantity of toppings is adequate; the pie falls into what I would determine to be a medium price range at about $7 per pie, which ways in at about 25 ounces, or 28 cents per ounce, or 87 cents for each of the eight slices (recommended servings).  Further, each slice contains 20 % of your daily sodium content. Whoops!

Instructions call for 15 – 18 minutes at 400; they further state that since ‘oven temperatures may vary’, one should rely on appearance, rather than timing, and bake until the cheese bubbles and the crust is brown.

After 15 minutes, the cheese was not ‘bubbling’, so I went the distance with another 3 minutes. And then another two and a half minutes, I must need my oven temp calibrated!

The result is pictured below.  It’s a thin and crispy ‘Upper Midwest style’ crust, but it broke in a couple of places coming out of the oven. No big deal.

Coming out of the oven, the aroma was similar to a pizzeria, which is a plus with me, but also noticeable was the scent of the green peppers, which I believe in the “a little goes a long way” with that topping.  Not my favorite.  Cheese and sauce were good, the cheese had a nice “pull” to it.  Cracker crust lived up to its billing.

Sausage?  Not so much.  There are very few frozen pizzas that have raw sausage, I get that, but the pre-cooked crumbles, especially this small, have a taste that just doesn’t sit well with me.  This sausage isn’t very seasoned, either, tasting more like pure ground pork. That’s ok, just not at the top of my list. Pepperoni did not char or cup, indicating a better quality pepp than many suppliers.

Would I buy it again?  Sure.  While it’s not at the top of my list for frozen pizzas, it is soooooooooooo much better than so many brands. I recommend you try it, though I suspect it might be a bit difficult to find outside of the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois areas.

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the package, prior to baking

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Baked, 400, 20 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luigis Pizza Review

 

New Orleans – Theos Pizza Review

Theos Pizza New Orleans ReviewFor the nearly ten years I lived in New Orleans, it was a city full of bad pizza and bad burgers; today it has its fair share of good outlets for both, and is the birthplace of one of America’s fastest growing pizza chains (which is awful, and I won’t bother to stop by and review).  In fact, my favorite pizza during my tenure was served at a local seafood restaurant in the ‘burbs.

Today’s occasion for venturing out in mid city was to grab a light repast within walking distance of BurgerDogDaughter’s domicile, and we sauntered into Theo’s, a local mini-chain for pies and craft beers.

Despite rather conventional ingredients and standard Baker’s Pride decks, Theo’s manages to churn out some really tasty pies; my daughter, knowing me as she does, ordered me a meat and olive combination. Her choice was the “Arti-Garlic”, which featured fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, peppers and mozzarella.  For a meat-centric guy like me, that was one good pie!  As was the meat one. Mild sauce, chewy / crispy crust, tasty processed pork products.

They close rather early as pizzerias go.  Worth a stop in the Big Easy. Menu.

 Theos Pizza New Orleans Review

 

 

Theos Pizza Review

Theo's Neighborhood Pizza, Mid-City on Urbanspoon

Why Is Sbarro in Trouble Again?

sbarroIn an article in the New York Times this morning, Neil Irwin opines that the reason Sbarro is filing bankruptcy for the second time in three years is that declining traffic in malls has affected food court merchant’s ability to pay rent.  He points at “Hot Dog on a Stick” bankruptcy as further evidence of the trend.

He further goes on to state that there is basically no draw to Sbarro, that “You eat Sbarro not because you want Sbarro, but because it is the food that is available at the moment you want some food.”

I don’t know whether his assertions are true or not.  There is little to compare Sbarro with, as they have 800 locations in malls and airports, and non one else comes close to that number of ‘restaurants’ in those type of locations. One competitor, Villa Fresh, (200 locations) seems to be holding up.  Their marketing emphasis is on “fresh”, as in ingredients and prep.  As Irwin points out, sauntering up to a Sbarro counter, you’re likely to encounter heat lamp pizza that has been far too long at the altar.

Besides the ‘heat lamp’ problem, my personal experience or disappointment with Sbarro is two-fold; first is, the product isn’t very good, and secondly, it’s not a good value.

One might suppose the “value” part is a reflection of the price they have to charge to cover their operating costs, including high rent. But most malls, especially for such a substantial tenant are willing to renegotiate leases these days.

They tout their fresh ingredients, but maybe not loud enough. Or maybe the thrice baked (oven, heat lamp, oven reheat) negates the freshness.  How about evolving to a MOD concept before the upstarts come in the malls and beat Sbarro’s to that concept?  A fresh, made to order, custom pie in minutes?

Just a thought.  I know if I was in a mall, a pie prepared to my liking on the spot would be worth a premium price.

 sbarro2

 

Doreens Pizza Review

Doreen's Pizza ReviewChecking out another Chicago area frozen pizza, Doreen’s started as a small pizzeria on the South side of Chicago; several locations later and a new state of the art plant in Calumet City, the pies are now distributed across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and are also available at the plant store.

Boasting “pizzeria taste” from a home-baked pie, Doreen’s plops a solid half pound of cheese on every pizza; quality Italian sausage is fresh, and not those pre-cooked food service crumbles.  Like so many Upper Midwest pizza success stories, Doreen’s frozen biz began with the company selling pies to local bars.

Instructions call for center shelf, 450, 14-17 minutes, with a three minute rest before slicing (good advice for any frozen pie).  The crust is a good bakery style, a little thicker than ‘traditional Chicago thin crust’, the sauce is mild, the cheese is ample and has nice pull. I liked the pepperoni because it has a nice little bit of kick. The hand pulled sausage could be a little bigger for my taste, and while it is clearly pure pork, it’s mildness will have some wishing for a touch of fennel and/or garlic.

It’s a little higher priced than comparable products, but the hand-made quality makes it a strong value.

Doreen's Frozen Pizza

Unbaked

 

Doreen's Frozen Pizza

After 15 minutes at 450

 

 

 

 

 

 

doreens pizza review

IKEA Pizza

Started in 1943 by 17 year old Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has grown to become the world’s largest furniture retailer. The name is an acronym for the founder’s initials, plus Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Southern Sweden).  The stores are massive, have nearly everything one would need to furnish a home, and many of its wares need to be assembled by the purchaser.

As of January 1 of this year, the company operates 349 stores in 43 countries around the world, generating over $23 billion in sales annually.  Media reports have speculated that IKEA is the world’s largest consumer of wood.

Many of the stores feature one or two cafes, both self-serve style, one with complete meals of a Swedish influence, the other featuring hot to go snacks at bargain prices.

You can drop off your rugrats at the front door at their in-house daycare center, and stop for a bite to eat halfway through your excursion, in case you just can’t make it another step without eating some meatballs and lingonberries.

The foodatorium near the exit is in the midst of a mini-grocery featuring Swedish foods; in addition to frozen meatballs, you’ll find all manner of fish products, and berry spreads, among other choices. The ‘to go’ counter has bulk cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, and pizza slices, featuring “meal deals”.  For a little more than a couple bucks, you can get two hot dogs and a soda, for instance.  Yogurt cups and cones are also available.  Once again, IKEA figures they have to take care of customers, and sells these snacks so you have enough energy to get to your car miles away in the massive parking lot.

I haven’t been in to an IKEA for quite awhile, tho Mrs Burgerdogboy and I used to enjoy an outing on occasion.  We purchased kitchenware from time to time, and a couple of those giant repro prints they feature.  I especially liked one we picked up that was a shot from Amsterdam, and it reminded me of a past Valentine’s Day excursion we took to the land of tulips.

I stopped in the store today because I needed a kitchen tool I knew they would have, and grabbed a slice on the way out;  like the hot dogs, the pizza combo offers a slice and soda for a little more than $2.00.

It’s a heavy on the cheese and herb affair, not bad, not great. I almost couldn’t choke it down after the guy in line in front of me squirted about a quart of ketchup on his.  Ugh.

Hot dogs solo are often just 50 cents.  Worth a trip in, if you skip the store, and go right from the entrance to the snack shop by the exit. You can make your Swedish grocery shopping list online before you make the trek.

Ikea Pizza

IKEA Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza Melt Review

WalMart deli sandwichOne of my mother’s hobbies was grocery shopping I think.  Started around the Cuban missile crisis and built from there – eventually there was enough canned, boxed and frozen goods in our basement to last through a zombie apocalypse.  I guess I picked at least part of the habit up, but I’m more fascinated by “looking” rather than shopping.  I read a lot of labels.  Not sure why.

I am prone to picking up things I haven’t seen before if they are of mild interest.  Impulse grocery shopping, I guess. Particularly at WalMart, which I have to do on my own, because Mrs. Burgerdogboy refuses to cross their doorstep. Not sure why. Don’t think it’s a political protest.  She may feel it’s “beneath her”, which would be hilarious as she has no problem stocking her wardrobe at Goodwill. Now that creeps ME out for sure.

Today’s score was a pepperoni melt in a pretzel roll. $2.48.  According to the USDA label, it was made in Valencia, CA, by a company called “Better Bakery” and apparently ‘pretzel sandwiches” are their specialty.

The packaging describes the “sandwich” as “sliced pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce, hand rolled into a soft pretzel bread sandwich.”

Nuke or conventional oven at 350 for 20 minutes.  If you’re a regular reader, you know I always opt for a conventional oven heat, it’s just my thing.

It’s a nice roll, tho I wish it somehow could have a crispier exterior.  As for the innards?  Really don’t taste like anything.  I can’t say if it’s comparable or better than say, a hot pocket, cause I’ve never been brave enough to try one of those.

It’s 10 oz of sandwich, so it’s a better value than most pre-prepared store sandwiches.  Would I buy it again?  I was drunk, and there wasn’t a nearby White Castle.

 Walmart sandwich

 

 

 

 

 

Pepperoni Pizza Melt Review

Minneapolis – Psycho Suzis Review

Psycho Suzi's ReviewDefined by their exotic-themed cocktails made from rum, Cantonese inspired food, and adorned with South Seas island decor, the first tiki bar in the U.S. sprouted in Los Angeles in 1933.  Ernest Gantt created “Don the Beachcombers” as an homage to life in the tropical Pacific Islands.  A few years later, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, the other iconic bar of the genre, “Trader Vics”, was opened by Victor Bergeron.

The format spawned other outlets and imitators, and was largely in favor in the US until the late 1960s, when the concept fell out of popularity for several decades. Independent operators, looking for new concepts, revitalized the idea in the 1990s, and both of the original bars started reinvigorating their own brands.  Today, there are innovative tiki bars across America, and in Northeast Minneapolis, Psycho Suzis Motor Lodge sprouted in 2003.  With three differently themed bars on the premises, and a raft of signature cocktails, PSML offers you and your pals an afternoon or evening away from Minnesota’s tundra landscape.

Veering away from the traditional Cantonese inspired food menu, Psycho Suzi’s food offerings lean more towards the traditional bar cuisine Minnesotans are used to – appetizers, wings, pizza, sandwiches and burgers.  Saturday and Sunday middays sees brunch entrees added to the choices, like biscuits and gravy, or chorizo benedict.

Pizzas come in two crust varieties, a deep dish, or a hand-stretched thin crust, about the thickness of your standard Pizza Hut pie (for comparison purposes only).  Toppings are plentiful and high quality.  The fennel sausage is a delight.

Psycho Suzis is open until 2AM daily.

 Psycho Suzis Review

 

 

 

 

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge on Urbanspoon

Psycho Suzis Review

 

Superior, WI – Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat Review

Shorty's Pizza Superior ReviewIt’s always difficult to find the true origin of a local favorite;  I don’t think anybody has ever established where the first Coney Island style hot dog was created….or the first pizza place in the U.S……who created the Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis, the Italian Beef in Chicago, or the muffaletta in New Orleans.  Lots of places claim to be first in each of these categories.

The same goes for “Montreal Smoked Meat,”  a favorite in the Quebec city, similar to pastrami, but slightly different. Montreal Smoked Beef is prepared by salting and curing beef brisket with spices for a week, then hot smoking it before steaming it just before serving. The brisket is thin-sliced and usually served on rye bread with yellow mustard.  There are many different claims as to who originated the dish which was first offered up North around 1910.

Less than three hours from the Canadian border, the Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior (MN/WI) have been a hot  destination for the neighbors from the north for decades and decades, who visit for vacations, shopping, and healthcare.  Yet there has never been a local restaurant that serves Canadian specialties;  it’s kinda hard to even find Canadian beer.  Until now.

Located in Superior, WI, Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat recently opened to offer the Twin Ports  Montreal specialties and other U.S. and Canadian favorites, including poutine, nearly the national snack dish of Canada.  Poutine is a bowl of fries, dotted with quality cheese curds, and smothered with brown gravy.

With all new construction and equipment, including 16 drink stations, the owners have made a big investment in the North end of Tower, and a commitment to “doing it right.”

“Montreal style” pizza is a slightly thicker crust and New York cut, something Northern Minnesotans aren’t used to.  Big hunks of fennel sausage decorated the pie, which was also ordered with pepperoni and onions.

The Montreal smoked meat sandwich was moist and full of flavor, as was the caraway rye it rested on.  Sandwiches are served with a pickle spear and slaw.

No complaints on the poutine, either,with ample-sized curds and house-made gravy.

On the beverage side, Shorty’s offers craft, domestic, and imported beers. Including a Canadian one or two.  Cocktails are available, and Jaeger mixes are featured.

Shorty’s is located on Tower Avenue in downtown Superior, and is open at 11 AM daily, with  menu specials and a soup of the day Monday through Friday.

Shorty’s Menu

Shorty's Pizza Superior Review

Sausage, pepp, onion pie

Shorty's Pizza Superior Review

Smoked Meat on Rye

Shorty's Pizza Superior Review

Poutine

Shorty's Pizza Superior Review

Shorty’s Bar Area

Shorty's Pizza Superior Review

Pizza Ovens

 

Photos copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com.  Used with permission.

Shortys Pizza and Smoked Meat on Urbanspoon

Shortys Pizza and Smoked Meat Review

Chicago, IL – Taylor Street Pizza Review

Taylor Street Pizza ReviewWith a name that is synonymous with Chicago’s “Little Italy” neighborhood, the seven location Taylor Street Pizza in Chicago’s NW suburbs has a rep to live up to.

Primarily a delivery and carry-out operation (with dine in available at the Elgin location), Taylor Street offers thin, double dough, and deep dish pies, as well as standard Chicago fare like calzones, Italian beef, hot dogs, ribs, fried chicken, and a host of appetizers/sides.

I was motivated to try it today as I had a $10 coupon from Restaurant.com, and I’m usually ready to try a new pie purveyor, especially when I am passing through Chicago, a city that has so many great pizza places.

My usual order is a thin crust, Italian sausage, green olive, and extra cheese, which was the choice today, as well.  A 16″ pie with the three toppings came to  $12.30  after the coupon.  Spoiler alert:  Taylor Street carries Pepsi products.

It took less than 25 minutes to be ready, and came out of the oven piping hot just as I arrived.  Aesthetically, it was a work of art. Taste wise, for my pizza palate, it was perfect.  Flavorful sausage, mild sauce, a sprinkling of herbs (such a small thing always makes a pizza special to me).  The crust was crispy on the outside, and chewy as you worked your way in, as it should be. Excellent “pull” on the cheese, and best of all, cheese, toppings, sauce all adhered to the crust nicely.

Taylor Street will be one of my “go-to” places when I’m in Chicagoland, for sure.

Coupons,  Store Menu.  Catering Menu

Taylor Street Pizza Review

Taylor Street Pizza on Urbanspoon

Taylor Street Pizza Review

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

Mystic Pizza Frozen ReviewFrom the oven of a small town pie shop in Mystic, Connecticut, comes this frozen version which their publicity states is made from the same ingredients and in the same manner as the restaurant pizzas.  Many people became aware of this pizzeria from the Julia Roberts vehicle, “Mystic Pizza.”

The pies have been available in the Northeast for some time, and are now working their way across the country, making it as far as Minnesota (Whole Foods) and Wisconsin (Woodmans). Locator here.

I picked up the Italian Sausage variety, 22 oz for about seven bucks.  15-20 minutes at 400 are the baking specs.  Mine came out at 16 minutes.

I am a bit conflicted as to how to describe this pizza, other than to say it’s “ok.”   When I took it out of the box, frozen, it had a definite pizzeria aroma to it, but unfortunately, that didn’t come through after baking.

The crust is good, doughy, thicker than I like but enjoyable.  The illustration on the box shows a smidgen more cheese than the actual product.  The sauce is very mild, as is the Italian sausage, which surprised me.  It’s a pure pork product, with seasonings and spices added, but it could actually pass for a beef sausage, almost.  Needs more fennel and garlic.

Would I buy it again?  If it was on sale, probably.  I remain convinced the frozen pie that I have had that most closely resembles one that comes out of the oven in a shop, is Chicago’s Vito and Nicks II.

Postscript:  I started ‘picking’ at the pie in the end, and when I peeled the toppings (cheese, herbs, and sausage) off the crust, and consumed it that way, I quite liked it.  So if they came out with an ultra thin/crispy crust, I would probably be a regular.

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

Out of the box

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

Out of the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystic Pizza Frozen Review

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