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Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

I Get Smacked Hard on One of My Reviews

Rebuttal to Culinary Circle Frozen Pizza Review

I seldom get comments on this site, and I welcome that.  Often my reviews are reposted on other sites, and sometimes they do get feedback at those locations.  Such is the case with reader “Dwayne from Maine”  who took exception to my opinion on Culinary Circle (a store brand for Albertsons and other stores) frozen pizza. (My original review appeared four years ago).

Everybody has an opinion, and as I often say in my reviews, “this post reflects my personal taste, and the product may be perfect for you.”  You are entitled.  And you are welcome to respond to any reviews here, or post your own.   I’m happy for Dwayne that this is the perfect pizza for him, however, he made a number of assumptions from my review that were’t/aren’t true.  And that’s ok, too.

Dwayne from Maine, sez:

HAHAHAHAHAHA YOU IGNORAMUS! You’re review is a joke. Actually, YOU’RE A JOKE! First off, if you’re deciding to buy pizza based on how many ounces it is, right off the bat, you’re already a gluttonous retard in my book. Then, your DUMB ASS mocked the instructions on the back of the box – which EVERY frozen food product shares the EXACT same instructions for legal reasons, because of retards like you as a matter of fact! I don’t understand the motivation to your need to mock these instructions, like you have never seen the same instructions on every other frozen food product. Your ignorant ass also doesn’t even know how to use a pizza stone, and to boot PIZZA STONES ARE NOT MADE FOR COOKING FROZEN PIZZAS YOU STUPID F***! FROZEN PIZZAS ARE DESIGNED TO BAKE UP IN A REGULAR OVEN THE SAME WAY THAT NON FROZEN DOUGH IS SUPPOSED TO COME OUT ON A PIZZA STONE! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?!! The CC pizzas are basically the BEST frozen pizzas on the market. They have the best topping/crust combinations and options, and the best final product on the market. I pay $4 for these pizzas when they are on sale, and $5 normally. Your complaints about the price and size are absolutely invalid and retarded beyond understanding. I will NEVER EVER EVER be able to EVER take any sort of culinary review or advice from you. EVER. For ANYTHING. It’s REALLY REALLY bad when a person ruins their review “career” only with ONE single review. HAHHAHAHAHA what a JOKE you are!!! I’m certain that any other reviews you have made are likely garbage and not worth 1 minute of my time to read it. I have never seen a single food review in my life that has been so stupid, and so unanimously disagreed with at such an extreme (basically, 0-42 – ZERO people agree with you, and FORTY-TWO think you are an ignorant jer*off!) BAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

 

 

 

culinary circle frozen pizza review

Duluth, MN – Tavern on the Hill Review

Tavern on the Hill Review

Junior High Demolished

Due to an anticipated major shift in the demographics of school aged children, the city of Duluth, MN went through a significant reorganization of the public schools several years ago, closing some, modernizing some, and repurposing others.

Part of this plan was demolishing one of the two junior high schools (grades 7-9) in the eastern portion of the city, Woodland Junior, which is within spitting distance of the University of Minnesota’s Duluth branch.

The resulting large piece of vacant property and the adjacent woods, so close to the University, proved a lure for potential developers, who envisioned a large mixed use development similar to the Main U campus’ Dinkytown.

Apartments, retail, services, and restaurants are at the center of the plan, with the first couple phases now open.

The first full service restaurant to open is called “Tavern on the Hill,” and is part of the local Blackwoods hospitality group. The debut also marks the opening of the first full bar within staggering distance of the campus.

Tavern on the Hills ReviewThe restaurant touts its locavore connection, sourcing as much locally as they are able to, (which really doesn’t explain items like ahi and North Atlantic Salmon) and offer a very diverse menu of sandwiches, pizza, flatbreads, full plates, tacos and “sushi” (designed for the Duluth palate). Several menu items are new to the area, including fish tacos and dishes with bison meat.

A small ‘market’ just inside the door of the restaurant offers take-away menu items, prepared and packaged to go.

The Kawika and members of the Duluth burger posse hit the restaurant on 11/18, and reported having ‘one of the best tasting burgers’ they had experienced in a long time, crowing about the quality of the meat. Servers offered the burgers in one of two modes: “pink” or “not pink,” and the kitchen obliged.

Craft cocktails and beers are available, and the restaurant is open daily at 11AM, closing at 1 AM, except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 AM.

Tavern on the Hill Review

Cheeseburger with Fries

Tavern on the Hill Review

 

Photos, with exception of “Junior High Demolished”  copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com, used with permission.

 

 

Tavern on the Hill Review

Barrington, IL – Sergios Pizza Review

Sergios Barrington ReivewSome years ago, we relocated from Los Angeles to this Norman Rockwellian idyllic Chicago suburb. It was for our daughter’s benefit, we wanted her to have a great education in a safe environment, and grow up with midwestern values. For the most part, it was a successful move. At the time, after local exploration, (and my previous choice burning down, not my fault), my “go to” pizza became the thin crust at Sergio’s. They’ve moved a couple times since then, and changed owners, but they are still grinding out great pies for the past thirty years.

Passing through the burbs this summer, on a mission to look at some horses for sale, it was appropriate to re-sample Sergio’s, and see how my memory compared to reality.  While most people identify Chicago with “Deep Dish Pizza” (except Jon Stewart), the thin crust pies are really excellent, cracker crusts, mounds of real cheese, excellent sausage, and square cut.

This is the 16 incher. They have larger, smaller, thick crust and stuffed – a full menu of other goodies, too, sandwiches, ‘cue,  pasta, salads, and small bites.

Sergio’s crust is flaky, the sizable  hand-pulled sausage chunks are flavorful, and the pie has spectacularly high quality cheese.  You’ll also notice a distinctive difference with the tomato sauce; all of their sauces are made in house, and the pizza sauce is very hearty with a full tomato flavor.

Another upside with Sergio’s is they charge 15-20% less than local competitors.  A welcome respite.

Here’s the Sergio’s menu.  Got a craving or miss Chicago foods?  Here are some companies that ship pizzas, dogs, and more.

Sergios Pizza Barrington Review

 

Sergio's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Sergios Pizza Review

Pizza Sizes Keep Growing!

Basil's Pizza Northfield

Northfield, MN – Used to be “Bill’s”

Pizza Sizes Keeping Pace Or Causing American Waistline Growth??

Back in my day, there were two sizes of pies at most pizzerias, small and large, and due to commonly available industry tools, they were 12” and 14” in diameter, respectively.

At some point, “personal sized’ pizzas, generally 6” or 8” were made available, as a way for pizza joints to capture the lunch and snack market, at a lower price point. It also enabled some operations to have ‘ready-to-go’ takeaway pizzas always ready.

Now, it’s quite common to see larger pizzas, I regularly spot 16”, 18”, and even 20” pies. That’s a lot of pizza, and a lot of dough — the money kind. At most ‘mom and pop’ pizzerias I frequent, a “large” (14” or 15”) will run to $25 or more, making it awfully tough to compete with national chains offering LTO deals like $5 or 2 for $12.

The largest regularly available pizza in the US has been at the Big Mamas and Papas mini chain (20 locations) in Los Angeles. A square pie, measuring 4′ 6” square, rings the cash register at $199.99 plus tax. This is for a cheese pie, naturally. Additional toppings? $15 each! And yes, they can be delivered. They claim is that it serves “70.” On the ‘regular’ menu, the pies top out at 36.” (about $50.)

There are a number of pizza places in the US that regularly offer 42”, 50”, and 60” diameter pies, but even the largest 60” is 2827 square inches of cheesy deliciousness, whereas the Big Mamas  monster is nearly 3000 square inches. So if you’re contemplating, the 60” round is a better deal.  I think I deserve one for my birthday.  Robin?  To the pizza mobile!

In college, my go to pizza was at  a place named “Bills,” and in fact it was the only place in town for the first couple years of school. It’s still around, but under a different name, (pic at left) and I stopped by last year and enjoyed the pies just as much as I had four decades earlier. (AND……they were less than $15 for a large!)

On a “good” night back then, I could damned near put away two large (14”) all by myself. I don’t know what’s changed (certainly not my love for a great pie), but today a large will last me at least two days, if not longer.

Today I mis-ordered, and got an 18 incher, which was $15 but only because I had a $10 coupon. It’ll take me a few days to work through this beauty….with pleasure….  Wanna have some Chicago style pizzas delivered to your door?  Or other Chicago food?  Do it!

 

Giant Pizza

18″ of Cheesy, Sausagey Goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza Sizes

Luigis Frozen Pizza Review

I wrote about this brand previously, which may or may not have been born out of a Wisconsin tavern.  Last time I was intending to get an “all meat” but somehow got home with a supreme, a type I would never buy.  If you’re not bothering to click over to the other review, here’s the spoiler:  I thought it was pretty good.

Here’s the most excellent news:  none of these sausage ingredients start with “mechanically separated” (anything).  They are PORK!  WAHOO!

More careful this time, actually got home with the one I wanted (ham, sausage, bacon bits, pepperoni).  400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, and voila!   Cracker like crust, mild sausage, good cheese.  Sausage bits could be bigger (my preference), but overall flavor is great.  The odor of the smoke flavoring in the bacon is fairly strong, but not objectionable.

Luigis Frozen Pizza Review

Frozen, Out of Package

 

Luigis Frozen Pizza Review

13 minutes @ 400

 

 

 

 

Luigis Frozen Pizza Review

Portland, OR – Pizza at Uncle John’s Market

Mrs. Burgerdogboy came back from an outing with her pals at ScarletGirl.com, with a most unusual rave – no, not the latest in intimate playthings for couples, but rather a tip on a pizza her husband must try!

So Sunday nite she urged us out the door as the punctuation for a week we have both been suffering from the Portland winter crud sickness – either as a very loving jesture or in fact as an excuse to pick up some ice cream – the cure all for any known feminine malady.

We motored over to Uncle John’s Market in Burlingame, long the destination of Portland pizza whisperers, but heretofore unvisited by Portland’s leading “pizza expert.” (Moi).

So here’s the drill.  There is a strictly take-out pizzeria inside this neighborhood market, offering slices or one-sized (x-large) pies to go, with your choice of toppings.

The mistress of Scarletgirl had recommended the pie as a thinner crust rendition of typical NY pizza, a two-handed slice, and she was spot on in both her description, and her understanding of what Burgerdogboy likes.

We grabbed a single slice of pepperoni for $2.75, and both enjoyed noshing on it on our way to ice cream land.

It’s thinner than typical NY pie, bordering on a cracker-thin, crispy slice, with nice cheese bubbles and a little char on the crust.

I grabbed a take-out menu, as it’s near to impossible to find details (or a phone number) for this neighborhood gem online.

For a quick slice in SW Portland, hit up Uncle John’s, or call ahead and order a large pie to go, or to enjoy al fresco (in your car) as we did!

Uncle John's Market Pizza, Portland, OR

Pizza at Uncle John's Market on Urbanspoon

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce Review

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce ReviewTried out a new pre-made pizza sauce last night, from Chicago pizza supplies and food supplier, Pastorelli, who have been around for a million years or so.  In addition to pizza sauce, they have a number of consumer products including tomato derivatives, olive oils, and pre-made crusts, which I tried previously. The past few years, I’ve been pretty satisfied with Contadina Pizza Sauce in a squeeze bottle, when I’m not in the mood to make sauce from scratch,  but they may have fallen from grace, or at least to second place, after sampling the Pastorelli.

Take a look at this ingredient list: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Canola Oil, Import Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Imported Pecorino Romano Cheese, Spices and Garlic.  You can’t get much more basic than that!   I like the flavor and texture, it leans to the thicker end of the sauce spectrum, and nicely covers a pie.  It’s not sickeningly sweet, and has a nice little zest.  It also comes in one serving pouches, if that’s your preference, though the small can works out perfectly too.  Buy online if you  can’t find it in your local grocery.

If you’re really hungry, take comfort in knowing that many of Pastorelli’s products are available in 55 gallon barrels, and 250 gallon totes.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, my recipe for homemade pizza dough is pretty straight forward, but does require some advance planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce Review

Reggios Pizza Review

Reggios Microwave Pizza ReviewI’m reluctant to try almost any freezer pizza that says it can be microwaved.  Just never works out, in my opinion.  But Reggio’s is one of my favorite frozen brands, and the individual sized were on an endcap and on sale, so I thought I’d give one a whirl.   I’ve tried the size before, but in  a conventional oven, as I am likely to do, given the option.  The results were satisfactory.

Two things that food producers have so far failed to master, one is microwavable pizza, the other is “crispness” on deep fried products.  The Reggio’s pie includes one of those “specialized” baking surfaces (within the box)  which is supposed to amp up the crisp factor.  In the base of this product, you remove from the box and the cello, and slide the frozen pizza back into the box for its minute or so in the nuke-a-torium.

I wasn’t very happy with the result.  While the familiar taste of a Reggio’s pie was there, and the interior portion was adequate, the crust rim was rock hard, and part of the pie was left in the box.  It doesn’t appear there is any easy way to get the pie out of the ‘cooking chamber box’ intact.

As with most products that give you the option of conventional oven or microwave, despite the time needed and energy consumption, I always recommend using your oven.  In the case of this pizza, the upside results would have been two fold:  1) even crust baking, and  2) better appearance.

Reggios Microwave Pizza Review

Baked, and out of the box

 

Reggios Microwave Pizza Review

What Was Left in the Box

Frozen Edwardos Natural Pizza Review

Edwardo's Natural Frozen PizzaThe relative new kid on the block in Chicago pizzerias, Edwardos has been cooking up their special ‘stuffed’ pizzas since 1978 from multiple locations in the Chicago area. They are also available in the frozen food section at your grocery, or you can have them shipped.

Despite the massive publicity Chicago pizza received courtesy of Jon Stewart (video below), there remains some confusion among locals, not to mention tourists, as to what exactly Chicago pizza is.  Is it deep dish?  Pan?  Double crust? Stuffed? Thin Crust? The truth is, they are all Chicago pizzas.

 

Edwardo’s version is deep, AND stuffed.  With a thin layer of crust on the bottom, topped with cheese, or cheese and meat, or cheese and sauce, and then another thin layer of crust, with sauce on the TOP.  That’s right.  It’s a Chicago thing with the deeper pizzas, sauce on the top.

At the grocery, you’re going to pay $7 plus for the small, which will easily feed two or three.  At the restaurant, about $20.  By mail, $25 plus shipping.

I opted for the sausage kind.   There are some Chicago pizzerias that make a blanket of sausage on the pie, it covers from rim to rim.  Edwardos goes with chunks of flavorful Italian, on the cheese layer.

The crust is buttery, as many Chicago pizzas are. It has a nice flaky quality, too. The cheese is tremendous, ample quantity, great flavor, and great “pull.”   Sauce is ample and fairly mild, leaning more ‘sweet’ than ‘savory.’

The pie takes around 30 minutes in a 425 oven, and you should let it set for a few before slicing.

I’ve taken a look at most every frozen Chicago pizza, including  Connies, Reggios, Home Run Inn, Vito and Nicks, Ginos, and others.  While Vito and Nicks remains my favorite thin crust, having pushed past Home Run Inn this year, this one, Edwardo’s Natural, is the first ‘deep dish’ I’ve found that is worth buying and consuming.  I’ll do it again.  Going to one of the shops?  Here’s the menu.

Edwardo's Natural Frozen Pizza Review

Frozen, Prior to Baking

 

 

Edwardo's Natural Frozen Pizza Review

Hot Slice!

 

Edwardos Natural Pizza

Pizza Knot Recipe, Tailgating Favorite

PIZZA KNOTS FOR TAILGATING PARTIES

I got a crazy itch this past weekend to try and make garlic knots for the first time. But I didn’t really feel like spending all weekend at it – when I usually make scratch bread or pizza dough, it’s a two day process.

So I went with the old reliable frozen bread dough. Which isn’t all that impromptu either, as you need a day to thaw it.

Ingredients

1 loaf frozen bread dough or pizza crust

6 cloves garlic, diced

1 T fresh parsley diced

1 T basil

4 oz pepperoni diced

3 oz your preferred “Italian” cheese

2 T butter

2 T olive oil

Method

Frozen bread  loaf, thawed

Frozen bread loaf, thawed

Using a roller, or a 2 liter bottle of soda if you don’t have a rolling pin, make a couple of 8” circles of dough.

Slice lengthwise into ½ inch wide strips. Tie into a loose knot. Set aside.

Roll dough, slice

Roll dough, slice

Place the butter and oil in a cast iron skillet. Saute the garlic, herbs and pepperoni until it has a little crisp going on.

Saute meat and veggies

Saute meat and veggies

Spoon out the garlic, parsley and pepperoni, and leave as much oil/butter in the skillet as you can. Place in a bowl and toss knots in the mixture.

Toss knots with vegs, meats, oil and butter

Toss knots with vegs, meats, oil and butter

Put the knots in the skillet in a single layer, drizzle with more oil and cover tightly, allow to double in size. Probably 3-4 hours.

Knots in the pan

Knots in the pan

Preheat over to 425, put skillet in oven on center rack for 25-30 minutes. Brush with more olive oil when you remove from oven and dust with your Italian cheese. Serve immediately. Or “knot.”

Pizza Knot Recipe

Out of the Oven!

 

You can serve some marinara on the side for dipping if you like.

 

 

pizza knot recipe

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