Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category
Jack’s is one of those former little brands, started as the food equivalent of a garage band, in Little Chute, Wisconsin (outside of Appleton. Near Neenah. Kinda by Menasha. Before you get to Green Bay). Started in 1960. Grew around the state, then the region, bought by Kraft when they were rolling up frozen pizza brands, and then Kraft spun off their pizza division to Nestle. I can’t say why. (Jack’s, DiGiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, and Tombstone are all part of this group.)
Jack’s sits in the ‘value category’, you’re probably not going to pay more than $4, and often they are on sale at 3 or 4 for $10.
Jack’s doesn’t list the ingredients on their website, but there is a mess of them, including my least favorite “….mechanically separated….. bird of some kind.” The company says one of their points of pride is ‘real Wisconsin cheese.’ I would think the Swiss owners would have something to say about that, but I guess not. Nutritional info says a serving size is 1/4 of the pie, for 380 calories, 160 of them from fat, and 37 grams of carbs. Seems low, but it is an ultra-thin crust.
The brand is kind enough to have the warning “do not eat without cooking.”
Directions call for 11 – 13 minutes at 425, center shelf. The pie curled in the oven. Not sure why some frozen pizzas do that and others do not.
Crust: ultra thin, cracker like
Sauce: a little towards the sweet side, but ample
Cheese: a fair amount, good flavor, nice “pull”
Pepperoni: not bad
Sausage: very small bits, no flavor at all. I’d prefer larger pieces and a little fennel and/or garlic.
Verdict: To my unsophisticated palate, most of the brands in the ‘value pricing category’ taste about the same. With the exception of the “ultra-value” like Totino’s or Jeno’s,which you can sometimes find for 10 / $10 – and they are truly awful. Would I buy this one again? I’d probably keep a few around if I ran into another 3 or 4 for $10 deal. Product locator.
After a year of extensive study (there are a lot of frozen pizza reviews on the site), my favorites remain Chicago’s Vito and Nicks II, and the Screamin’ Sicilian Brand from Milwaukee manufacturer, Palermo.
We’ve talked about value and ultra value here; I think there needs to be an ultra premium category of frozen pizza. Probably in the $12 – $15 range.
Below is the publicity photo from Jack’s website, and my photo of the pie just out of the oven. Waddya think? Do they look the same?
Jacks Pizza Review
I’d always meant to get to Caro Amico with Mrs. Burgerdogboy for a romantic dinner; we thought it might be great because we had enjoyed their food via Delivered Dish (www.d-dish.com) and its position, on a hillside overlooking the river, might have made for some dreamy views.
We never got there as a couple, but I was spot on about my feelings with regards to all the rest, as evidenced by this report from a recent visit.
We started with the Caesar with prawns, which was romaine lightly dressed with olive oil, rather than a typical Caesar dressing, and the prawns were warm with a hint of garlic flavor. The entire salad was generously dusted with Parmesan and finely chopped croutons.
For our mains, he went with Chicken Parmesan, one of his favorite meals, which was a large plump breast, very juicy, served with a colorful array of sautéed veggies, and penne with marinara. The breading on the chicken was light, not overbearing, and the breast may have been brined ahead of time for extra flavor.
She opted for the Canzano Calzone, stuffed with chicken, bacon, green peppers and pepperoncini. The crust was thin and crisp, and the marinara was some of the finest she had ever consumed. She would have liked a bowl of it all on its own, she said.
For dessert, we went with the dense and delicious cheesecake, topped with whipped crème and a raspberry sauce so yummy she wanted to lick the plate clean.
Often overlooked by locals, even though it was Portland’s first Italian restaurant, it continues to please on every level.”
Caro Amico Portland
Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Kitchen is an in-house brand at discount grocer Aldi, owned by the same German company that owns Trader Joes. Aldi primarily contracts with food manufacturers to make products under brand names that Aldi has chosen, and they are quite often top manufacturers in the segment; Aldi offers the products for significantly less than the major brand names.
Past posts on Aldi include their frozen lasagna, cocktail sausages, and frozen “stone baked” pizza. Overall, I have been very satisfied with Aldi products over the years, and I think they present a good value.
Today I took a look at their (fresh) take and bake line, and picked up a 16″ “Mega Meat Thin Crust,” for $5.99, or 19 cents an ounce, a really great value. Compare this with my local pizzeria, who gets $25 + for the same size and ingredients.
The mega meat includes Italian sausage, pepperoni, beef pizza topping, bacon, and salami. Only the beef topping has extenders/additives, the other meats are pork and seasonings. For this product, Aldi chose Richelieu Foods, one of the largest private label manufacturers of fresh and frozen pizza. The company was named “Pizza Manufacturer of the Year” in 2006 by a leading trade magazine.
Richelieu is currently owned by Centerview Capital, a private equity firm. According to the pizza packaging, the product is made at USDA establishment M5699-P5699 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. The pictures below of the factory are from Google maps, and may or may not be accurate.
Instructions call for 12-15 minutes at 400, allow to cool 2 minutes before slicing. Once again, the box says “do not eat before cooking.” (Sad we have to have those kind of warnings in this day and age, isn’t it?).
Mine popped out (not literally) after 14 minutes, and I have to tell you, for my personal tastes, as well as the value, I find no fault with this product. Cracker crust, ample cheese and toppings, thick sliced pepperoni, great flavor with the salami and Italian sausage. Nice. I’d do it again. They do come shrink wrapped, so I imagine they can be frozen if you want to stock up. Note in the pix below, all the pepperoni is to one side, all the sausage to the other. That’s not the way they come, it was to placate a guest.
Mama Cozzis Mega Meat Thin Crust Pizza
As a regular reader, you know I think Home Run from Chicago makes one of the best frozen pizzas on the market. They have been running a social media campaign, and if you (to quote Groucho) “say the secret word, the bless you with a coupon for a free pie and a spiffy logo imprinted pizza cutter.
They blessed me with a care pack, and I picked up the Classic Cheese, which is a great pie all on it’s own, but I’ve been trying to utilize more leftovers lately, and added last night’s spinach/bacon/garlic dish as a topping.
HRI is one of the few frozen pies that is truly microwavable, if that’s your thing. They include a microwave browning disc which helps the project along, and it really works!
Pix of the frozen pie with micro tray, and the finished product, 425 oven for 17 minutes. You can buy Home Run frozen pies online.
Home Run Inn Pizza Review
Busman’s holiday. A funny phrase. It means I’m taking time off from my job as a write to write this, which is supposed to be a hoppy, but has turned into a second job. No rest for the wicked, as they say.
Developed originally by Kraft, the DiGiorno frozen pizza line now calls Switzerland based Nestle “momma”, and markets their pies under the DiGiorno name in the United States, and under the Delissio label. No idea why the split.
DiGiorno has long used the advertising tag line “it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” as a reference to there being a frozen pizza product that is every bit as good as a pizza delivered from a shop.
They have a host of types of pizza products and configurations; from classic thin crust, to flat bread – garlic bread pizza and rising crust. One of their more interesting products is the “pizza and sides” concept, emulating the offerings of the budget delivery chains, from DiGiorno you can get a frozen pizza and boneless chicken “Wyngz” in one box. A little sauce as well. Or pizza and breadsticks.
Nestle’s latest offering is “Pizzeria style”, which strikes me kind of funny, since the previously mentioned tag line would seem to indicate the manufacturer thinks ALL of their pies are “pizzeria style.”
The difference, apparently, according to the fat cats in Vevey, is that this pie has a “crust that’s crispy, yet soft and airy on the inside, a flavorful sauce and premium toppings.”
I guess it’s too much that we hope all frozen pizzas are crispy and flavorful with premium toppings. I wonder what the opposite would be?
Nevertheless, I picked one up to give it a whirl.
The box is designed and shaped to give the impression of a large pizza than actually comes in the box. The frozen pie is pictured to the left, and yes, I DID rearrange the pepperoni for the photo. Yes, of COURSE it came out of the box with all the toppings on one side of the pie.
The box states this is ‘primo pepperoni pizza” and it is “created with care.” (Which Nestle has trademarked. Are their other pies created with not so much care?)
Further there are “no artificial flavors.” I’m not really sure what that means.
375 at 18-20 minutes say the operating instructions, with a cautionary ” not ready to eat – cook thoroughly” warning. Thanks for telling me!
I am a bit predisposed to not favor this pie, pizzeria style or not. The crust is going to be a little too thick for me.
The first thing I noticed when the pie came from the oven was the aroma, or rather lack of it. No pizzeria smell. Not like local product Vito and Nicks II which we tried last week.
The crust? Yes, while it is ‘crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside’, it’s too thick for my personal preference. It would definetly be labeled “thick crust” at any pizzeria. The sauce is rather non-intrusive, not imparting any particular flavor one way or another, but the cheese is good, albeit sparse, and the pepperoni flavor is nice, but the slices cupped during baking, which generally indicates a higher fat content. I know, I know, some people insist real flavor comes from fat. Each slice of pepp here is dotted with some herbs.
Overall? Nothing new, tastes like dozens of other frozen pizzas.
See, here’s where I don’t get it. Why can’t these giant multinationals make a good frozen pie? For goodness sake, Nestle is the largest food company in the world! Yet lots of little guys kick their butts when it come to making a good frozen pizza.
I have a suggestion for Paul Bulcke, the current CEO of Nestle. On your next trip to the US, step inside a Trader Joe’s grocery store. Trader Joe’s imports frozen pizzas from France and Italy, and have several different varieties including flatbreads. The truffle one is out of this world.
Now skedaddle back to Europe and buy the companies supplying Trader Joes. Now rebrand those pizzas with the DiGiorno name, and toss out your current recipes.
Just a thought. Wanna try a great frozen pizza?
DiGiorno pizza review
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!!
I went back to the other site today to reference something and noticed there is a boatload of people who disagree with me on Culinary Circle. Some of the comments are VERY funny!
42 Responses to “Frozen Pizza Review – Culinary Circle Ultra Thin Crust Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza at Albertson’s”
culinary circle frozen pizza review
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.
The 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.
Photos, with exception of “Junior High Demolished” copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com, used with permission.
Tavern on the Hill Review
Some 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.
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!
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