Posts Tagged ‘Frozen Pizza’
There are two or three frozen pizzas I rate as exceptional on every level, but unfortunately, as one might suspect, none of these are in the ‘mass market’ offerings.
DiGiorno (Delissio in Canada) was created in the mid 90s by Kraft.
Apparently bored of the segment, they sold off their pizza brands to the international robber barons of water, Nestle. (DiGiorno, Jack’s, Tombstone and California Pizza Kitchen). Kraft picked up $3.2 billion. Nestle got the #`1 frozen pizza brand.
“It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” goes their commercials. Good thing it’s not delivery, I would have asked for my money back.
The “Bacon Me Crazy” stuffed crust pie (crust rim is stuffed with cheese and ‘bacon’) falls into the higher price range of thin crust frozen pizzas, at about $8. Taking it out of the box, frozen, it looks more like the one dollar variety pies from Totinos. At least to me.
The box informs me this pizza is made at USDA establishment number 1682 A, which is a contract manufacturer called “Nation Pizza,” in Schaumburg, IL. They manufacture frozen foods of all ilks. I’ve driven by the plant many times. (Pictured below, as well).
Following the baking instructions precisely, the crust remained rather doughy, and the minuscule diced toppings might not have even been there. They didn’t really provide any flavor or tactile experience to the pie. The sauce leans towards the sweet side. The “smoke flavoring” is very present.
Whether or not the rim is actually ‘stuffed’ is open for debate.
I had two squares, and then did something I NEVER do. Tossed the rest. Perhaps the raccoons will like it. I sure didn’t.
Lots of ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Part-Skim
Mozzarella Cheese with Modified Food Starch (Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Modified Food Starch,
Methylcellulose), Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Applewood Smoked Cooked Bacon (Bacon [Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrate], Smoke Flavoring), Tomato Paste, Genoa Salami (Pork, Beef, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Wine, Flavoring, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Citric Acid), 2% or Less of:
Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Corn Oil), Yeast, Bread Crumbs (Bleached Wheat Flour, Yeast, Sugar, Salt), Vegetable Oil Shortening
(Palm Oil, Natural Flavor, Beta Carotene [Color]), Sugar, Salt, Seasoning Blend (Salt, Spice, Dried Garlic).
Nation Pizza photos from their website. Product photos are my own.
DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza Review
It seems like there’s always something “new” in their freezers. (There are four, 30 foot long freezers of pies!). This week it is Pep’s Drafthaus.
Pep’s Drafthaus Pizza is from Hansen Foods of Green Bay, a 100+ year old company that started as a local dairy. Primarily in the fundraising business, Hansen is a company you go to if your school, church, scout troop wants to have a money-raising project, by selling nearly any kind of food: cheese, candy, meat snacks, and yes, frozen pizza.
Prices for products sold by fundraisers are considerably inflated over retail store prices, providing a great opportunity for your group to make some real cash.
I picked up the Taproom Double variety, which has two kinds of sausage and two kinds of pepperoni.
I’m loving the ingredient label, about has pure as it gets, like sausage being pork and spices, and actual mozzarella.
I don’t know how long Hansen has been in the retail pizza biz, this is the first I have seen the brand in a local store, and it was in the medium range of spendy, $7.99.
400 at 18-20 minutes produced great results. The crust is a little thicker than my general preference – say it’s the equivalent of “hand tossed” at the national chains.
VERY GENEROUS supply of nice hand-pulled sausage, flavorful pepperoni, and I think more cheese than I’ve ever experienced on a frozen pie. Akin to if you ordered “double cheese” from your local pizzeria, IMHO, and I appreciate it. Has a nice “pull” to it.
Four times a year Hansen has a ‘factory direct’ sale where you can stock up on cases of these pies. Schedule of dates and details here. Or follow them on Facebook. Pep’s easily moves into my top four for regular frozen pizza purchases.
Peps Drafthaus Frozen Pizza Review
Peps Drafthaus Frozen Pizza Review
Peps Drafthaus Frozen Pizza Review
“Exceeds Expectations,” the package of Emil’s Pizza boasts. And you know what? It did, for me. And I was surprised that it did. Making “Real Good Pizza Since 1961,” Emil’s is based in Watertown, WI, and must be another one of those Upper Midwest pizzas that got its launch as a local mom and pop selling frozen pies to bars. (I’m guessing).
I picked up the traditional thin crust sausage pie, which weighs in at 21.6 oz (Now 20% larger!). It was $6.99 at one of my local grocers, which puts it in the “medium value” range for frozen pizzas.
After taking it out of the package, I was immediately leery of the diced approach to the cheese, figuring it would not be adequate to cover the pie. I also noted that there was an ample quantity of sausage, but the pieces were relatively small.
Well, surprise! It did exceed my expectations, and I’d buy it again. It’s a good crisp version of the thin crust, the Wisconsin cheese melted and covered nicely, the sauce did not have an intrusive flavor and the sausage was fine.
Good job, Emil’s!
Emils Frozen Pizza Review
Up in the front of WalMart, near the deli counter is a supply of ‘fresh’ (not frozen) take and bake pizzas. WalMart has been expanding the choices in these pies, and all of them are a great value compared to most frozen pies and nearly any pizzeria. They now have a “flatbread” with pepperoni slices and chunks, as well as mini-balls of real mozzarella. As it’s not frozen, it doesn’t take long in the oven, 10-12 minutes.
Instructions call for putting it on a baking sheet, which works to the detriment of creating a crisp crust, but it’s an awkward size and shape, so I understand why they suggest this method.
I liked it, except for a not crisp crust which could be rectified. The “fresh” mozzarella is great and I think the manufacturer (Chicago area “Great Kitchens“) (subsidiary of a Swiss company) uses a different grade and type of pepperoni, it’s extremely flavorful.
It’s less than $4.
Also, up near the take and bakes, you’ll find these packs of pizza dough (below) for a buck, if you want to make one at home. Or you can throw the ball into a bread pan, let it rise a couple hours, bake 35 minutes at 350 and voila, fresh loaf. Easy. Nice. If you want to have a fun kids party, get several of the balls, divide into thirds each, let the kids pound out their own crusts and have bowls of healthy toppings for them to slap on their own pies!
WalMart Flatbread Review
Working on this site, there are two things I can consistently depend on Trader Joes and sister company ALDI for – and that’s a lack of information. Whenever I drop them a query about a particular product, to keep you informed, all I get is <crickets>.
One time I heard from one of the PR firms who dutifully didn’t answer a single question I had but sent me a puff piece on the company that actually had less information than there is on the company’s website. Sigh.
There’s some personal irony here, as once upon a time I was at a dinner party and seated next to one of the original founders for Trader Joes, and he was more than happy to answer any questions I posed.
Which brings us to today’s review:
Trader Joe’s Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza
I was motivated to try this because I have enjoyed a couple of other TJ’s pizzas in the past, which I wrote about here and here. Those I liked, because they were both imported, one from France, one from Italy, and I wondered aloud why US frozen pizzas couldn’t be as good? My second motivation was TJ’s ad for this pizza in its flyer, in which it states that they worked with their favorite Italian crust maker and had the crusts sent over to their favorite US toppings company for completion.
According to the USDA number on the package, the “toppings company” is Nation Pizza, a contract manufacturer in Schaumburg, IL, who also makes many of the frozen pies for ALDI. This only adds to my confusion as the actual product packaging doesn’t say anything about the crust being shipped over from Italy. Oh well.
It’s completely pre-baked, so it doesn’t take long in the oven, the 15 ouncer take about ten minutes at 450. The crust is thin, but not cracker thin, and “puffy” around the rim, with a nice flake for a period of time when consumed just after baking. Not so much on day 2. Good, ample cheese, and the sauce reflects a very pure tomato base.
I’ve never understood the appeal of “uncured” processed meats, except for people that think they are doing something healthy by skipping the usual preservatives. There is certainly no difference in the taste of TJs pepperoni and any other, you can trust me on this, I have probably consumed a couple of tons of pepperoni in my lifetime.
It’s a pretty good pie, but won’t be on my regular rotation list unless it is heavily discounted in the future.
Trader Joes Frozen Pizza Review
Seems that Milwaukee’s Palermo Pizza, which has been around forever, took a tip from the brewers, and have rolled out (I think) six new ‘brands’ over the past two years. I’ve tried a bunch of them, including their Classic, Sasquatch (available at WalMart only), P’Mos, and the Screamin’ Sicilian. I had mixed feelings about some of them, but I continue to buy Screamin’ Sicilian, because I like the amble toppings.
Urban Pie is their latest offering, and they come in four different varieties, “styled after” specific neighborhoods in the U.S. I chose the “Mission District,” which boasts Uncured Pepperoni. Chicken Sausage, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce, Tomatoes, Basil, Green Peppers, Onions, Crimini Mushrooms. and a four cheese mix – Romano – Mozzarella – Parmesan – Provolone.
That’s a pile of ingredients for my personal tastes, I like a couple-three toppings at most, and my personal preference is a cracker thin crispy crust. But surprise, I liked this. The crust is about the thickness of what some shops call “hand-tossed,” but it’s flaky – almost like a matzoh flour, unique, I think, in the frozen pizza biz. Good show.
The “Little Italy” has pesto, fresh mozz, and tomatoes. “Lakeview” is chicken sausage, roasted yellow peppers and spinach. “Northend” is a mushroom and truffle pie, with a three cheese combination, including Asiago.
Urban Pie has a locator on the top, right hand side of their site. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the ingredient panel from the package. That’s alotta stuff!
Urban Pie Pizza Review
One of my local grocery stores is huge. I get exhausted going there. But the upside is they have really deep selections of product, including frozen pizza – they have four 30 foot long coolers of different brands, and in a separate vertical cooler, organic, vegan, and gluten free offerings.
Any time I go in there, there are new brands, or at least ones I haven’t seen.
This week it was “Eastside Cafe,” from a small manufacturer outside of Chicago – it looks like they are primarily in the contract manufacturing business for groceries and other outlets – both fresh and frozen pies.
Their mission statement: “We are manufacturers of fresh frozen pizzas serving many retail and recreational bussinesses within the United States. Eastside Café was established in 1992, and we pride ourselves on providing customers with high-quality products and personal service. Our office is conveniently located in Warrenville, Illinois”
I picked up an individual size meat lovers, sausage, pepperoni and bacon.
Now these guys tried it and loved it.
Me? Not so much.
The cheese is good, note on the photo of the unbaked pie that the cheese is in ‘gobs’ instead of ‘shreds’ as most frozen pies come.That move apparently makes for a nicer melt, judging from the finished product.
The sauce was really pedantic. Ordinary. The crust was ok, from the thickness I would have thought it would have been crispier, but it was chewy, not crispy. Pepperoni, good flavor and texture. Sausage, no apparently seasoning. Bacon? Couldn’t really tell there was any on board.
So this one brand won’t be on my regular buy rotation. You, however, may find it’s your new favorite! You can check them out on Facebook.
The company is located in Warrenville, IL, in the office park pictured below.
Eastside Cafe Pizza Review
It may not be delivery, it’s “Digiorno,” but for me, another “d” word motivates me to buy this brand: “desperation.”
Translation? I’m in the mood for a frozen pie and happen to be someplace where this is the only thing available. In the case of last night, at a 7-Eleven, where the self-rising pepperoni was priced at $6.99.
Opening the box, right away I don’t like it, there’s a weird “chemical” smell from the box, which isn’t from the vacuum sealed pizza, but rather ingredients or ink in the cardboard? In any regards, it’s unappealing to me.
Pie-wise, I’m not a fan of thicker crusts. I prefer more cheese and toppings make up the calorie count, rather than bread.
Digiorno is owned by Nestle, along with Jack’s, Tombstone, and some other brands, it was part of a 2010 $3.7 billion acquisition from Kraft, who needed to raise money for other acquisitions. Regardless of what I personally think, apparently Digiorno is the number one frozen brand in the U.S. There’s a reason, I’m sure and it’s not to do with ‘value pricing,” though I did see a woman earlier in the day at a grocery picking up a half dozen, as they were on sale for less than $4 a pop.
It’s a very “non offensive,” pizza, mild toppings, mild sauce, fairly adequate cheese, and it’s probably very filling for a family meal, due to the calories in the bread.
In all fairness, before this pizza hits by pie hole, it has been seriously altered at home, with more toppings, spices, and herbs. So it’s not a very unbiased ‘review.’
The pies are made at a massive factory in Little Chute, Wisconsin, at USDA establishment M5754. Little Chute is parked along the Fox River adjacent to the Appleton-Neenah area. (pix below).
The pies have a whole raft of ingredients, including the dreaded mechanically separated chicken, something I try and avoid.
INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), PEPPERONI MADE WITH PORK, CHICKEN AND BEEF (PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, BEEF, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SPICES, DEXTROSE, PORK STOCK, LACTIC ACID STARTER CULTURE, OLEORESIN OF PAPRIKA, FLAVORING, SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, PAPRIKA, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID), TOMATO PASTE, SUGAR, 2% OR LESS OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), DEGERMINATED WHITE CORN MEAL,YEAST, SALT, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, SEASONING BLEND (SALT, SPICE, DRIED GARLIC), BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE), DATEM, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, ASCORBIC ACID (DOUGH CONDITIONER)
CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT.
Digiorno Self Rising Pizza Review
I’ve written about Reggio’s before; this one, and competitor Home Run Inn (HRI), were both born in Chicago pizzerias, 40-50 years ago. The companies are still in the restaurant business, and do a good business making frozen pies for regional distribution and nationwide shipping direct to enthusiasts.
I’d venture a guess that these two pies do about the same amount of business, and they certainly get the most freezer face at stores I go to, even tho there must be – what – two dozen frozen pizzas out of the Chicago market?
They look the same, pretty much taste the same, and are usually priced the same, but Reggio’s seems to offer sales more often than HRI.
Both boast of a “butter crust,” and you really can taste it. Both are a hair thicker than traditional Chicago thin (cracker) crust, more like “hand tossed” thickness at most places.
Reggio’s has some good sausage and pepperoni, in fairly ample quantities. The 20 ounce pie is described as “dinner size.”
Ounce for ounce, dollar for dollar, I think Reggio’s has proportionately more cheese than most frozen pies, and it’s quality cheese at that, with good stretch.
If you’re in the city, and want to check out a Reggio’s restaurant, you’ll find them here. Or you can order them online, have them shipped to you, four 20 oz pies, including shipping for less than $80. That’s considerably less than most pizza shipping deals in my experience.
In other words? I like Reggio’s pizzas, and they are in my oven as much as any other brand.
Reggios Frozen Pizza Review
Lou Malnati, and his father Rudy, managed Pizzeria Uno, one of the first outlets for “Chicago Deep Dish” pizza. Although Uno (now Uno Chicago Grill) claims to have invented the pie, local food historians give the credit to Rudy.
Lou and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati’s in 1971, in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood. The rest is history, and the company now boasts 40 shops in the Chicago area and ships frozen pizzas nationwide.
The main difference between “Chicago deep dish” and similar pies in other parts of the country, is that in Chicago, the tomato sauce goes on top; many restaurants that offer a deep dish sausage pack the bottom of the crust with a blanket of cheese, then the sausage (or whatever you choose) and then the sauce.
I reviewed Gino’s frozen a couple years ago, and another Chicago deep dish, Edwardos, so a follow up with Malnati’s seems like a good idea. Baking instructions call for 425 and 35-40 minutes for the sausage pie. There’s a slight variance in the directions than you (we) are probably use to: “remove pizza from pan, wipe off any condensation that has formed, lightly oil pan (I used spray) and return pie to pan prior to placing in oven.”
After 40 minutes, I took this beauty out. In appearance, it closely resembles its restaurant cousin. It’s about 1 1/2″ deep, 9″ across, and weighs 24 ounces. I paid $12.99, ( @ .54 ounce) which is probably more that you will see it most groceries, I was in an “up market” store. At a Malnati’s restaurant, the same pie will set you back about the same amount. A large sausage goes for $20.25 at the time of this posting.
I’m really pleased with the end result; this is one of the more flavorful frozen pizzas I have encountered. Many people don’t understand that a “Chicago deep dish” is a THIN crust pizza, and is deep due to the ingredients. The crust was appropriately crispy, the cheese has really nice “pull,” the pie is wall to wall with the sausage, and the (chunky) tomato ‘sauce’ just pops with flavor.
When you look at the ingredient list, there aren’t any of those words you can’t pronounce or have no idea what they are. Example, the sausage is pork, salt, and spices. I’d do it again.
According to the packaging, these pies are made at USDA factory number 18498, at 3054 S. Kildare Ave., Chicago, which is apparently owned and operated by Home Run Inn pizza for their frozen pie operation. (factory pics below) HRI makes one of my favorite frozen thin crust pizzas.
If you’re rolling into Chicagoland, and want to hit a Malnati’s restaurant, you’ll find them here (note, some locations are carryout/delivery only).
Lou Malnatis Frozen Pizza Review