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Posts Tagged ‘Frozen Chicago Pizza’

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review


Trader Joes Angus Burger ReviewI keep searching for a frozen burger patty that meets with my personal tastes. They come in a few different forms, raw patties on their own, pre-cooked patties, or a complete pre-cooked hamburger sandwich.

I’ve previously tried Ball Park, Steak & Shake, Fatburger, White Castle, Advance Pierre, Trader Joe’s “Kobe Style,” some various store brands. None of them really moved me, except the TJ’s “Kobe,” was flavorful and lean. For a heat and eat, if you want to give your kids a burger in a minute, the Ball Park brand ones are pretty good. They have a bit of smoky flavor built in to emulate grilling.

The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus Burger is what I picked up today, four to a package, four to a pound, packaged in twos, $4.99 on sale. So they are “spendy” as are all the ones I have previously mentioned.

Trader Joe’s sets their own product standards and doles out production to contract manufacturers all over the world. Most of the products I’ve purchased from TJs have been ultra-satisfactory, but priced a bit higher than equivalents.

First off, with this product, or any beef, it should not be perceived that the word “Angus” denotes any premium; most of the beef cattle in the US are “Angus” You’ll also occasionally see a label and logo that says “Certified Angus,” and this is merely a marketing term for a collective of growers who raise or purchase cattle that meets their own set of standards.

Should quality be a true concern, you should only look for beef with the USDA grades on them, which are select, choice, or prime. Each of these grades have subgrades. Most grocery beef comes from the choice category. To add to the confusion, the USDA grades are applied to whole carcasses, not to individual cuts.

But we’re talking about burgers, and you won’t see graded ground beef (usually) at the grocery. If you’re feeling finicky, grab graded steaks and have the butcher grind them for you. You’ll be happiest with a blend of 2-3 different cuts. Many people prefer a blend of chuck, brisket and and round. If you want your blend to be a little fattier, substitute short rib or navel cuts.  Have them run it through the grinder twice for the right burger texture.

The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus burgers are a product of New Zealand (country of origin of the beef) but processed by a small company in Brooklyn called Papa Pasquale’s  (according to the USDA factory number) (pictured below). The patties  are an 80/20 blend, and the content listing says “grass fed Angus beef.” Period.

I think you’ll have more favorable results if you thaw these patties. Most raw pre-formed frozen patties have the same instructions, cook on one side til blood comes thru the top side, flip and cook until there is no blood showing.

So I did. I also didn’t season the burger or add condiments. For my own personal taste, this is an excellent burger. Why? It tastes like BEEF. And when/why I say that about meat products, I’m talking about beef (or pork) you ate at somebody’s farm. Chefs call that quality “gaminess,” which has a somewhat undesirable meaning to most of the culture.

But it’s a good word. Beef (and pork) should taste like animals. Most product meat proteins don’t anymore.

But if that taste is your thing, too, you’ll like these burgers.  Great flavor, great texture.

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Frozen Patty

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Pan Fried

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Papa Pasquales Brooklyn




Trader Joes Angus Burger Review


Home Cookin’ – Vito and Nicks II Frozen Pizza


Last in a series of testing out the various local brands of frozen pizza in Chicago.  Vito and Nicks II is an offshoot of a 70 year old business, that started as Vito’s Tavern on the far south side of Chicago.  They toiled hard, added a few food items, and son Nick joined Vito Barraco in the business in the early 1940s; the tavern moved, became Vito and Nick’s, and Nick’s wife made and sold the first pizza in 1945.

Business was brisk, the family prospered, and Nick’s son, expanded to other locations, under the name of Vito and Nick’s II, and several locations have popped up around Northern Illinois;  one is open in Phoenix, and there’s a unit in the pipeline for Florida.

Customers started asking for frozen pies, and it became a sideline at one of the shops.  The pies had always been made by hand with the freshest ingedients;  the style was formulated back in the 40s, one of Chicago’s first “thin crusts”, and on the frozen pie box, they boast about the “cracker thin crust.”

More sales, a dedicated plant, and today Vito and Nicks II Frozen Pizzas are being sold in a number of states.  My personal price point for a frozen pie is around six bucks, but this one, the sausage and pepperoni pie, clocks in at an even ten bucks, and 30 ounces, or around 33 cents per ounce.  This is a good 30-40% above most brands.

The package promises that customers call this “The Best Pizza Anywhere,”  “restaurant quality,” and “hand-made from scratch.”   Easily, taken frozen from the box, this is one of the most handsome cook at home pies I have ever seen – it really does look like it’s from a pizzeria.

Vito & Nicks Frozen Pizza

The instructions call for 450, on the shelf for around 18 – 20 minutes; a second set of instructions is offered for cooking the pie on your barbecue grill.  I’ve had great results with pizza on the grill, it’s worth a try if you haven’t done it.

I removed the pie at 16 minutes, and it’s appearance is nearly equal to a hot pie from a Blodgett  or Baker’s Pride deck.

Vito & Nicks Frozen Pizza

And the taste?  I like it. A lot.  I can’t think of any part of it I’d want changed, except to note I always like larger pieces of sausage.  But the flavor of the  meats, cheese, sauce is spot on for pizzeria taste.  V & N frozen has a noticeable (taste-wise) smattering of herbs, the only other company I can think of where that is evident is California Pizza Kitchen’s frozen pies. I like a strong herb taste on pizza.

While I complained about the $10 price tag, after eating this pie, I think it’s worth it, especially compared to the $20 -$25 you have to spend at a quality pizza shop. (No, I won’t go for the $5 or $10 specials from the big chains).   I’d love to try one of these on a high quality home oven at 500 or 550.  This has absolutely moved to the head of the pack for me, in favored frozen Chicago area pizza.

Guy Fieri slid into the original shop  on one of his outings, and you can check out his stop in this video.

If you can’t find the pies in your local grocery, the guys will ship you some. Order online.  Or for the original, stop by one of their shops.

Vito and Nicks II Frozen Pizza



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