Monday, November 4, 2013

The Best and Worst of Frozen Pizza

Close Encounters of the Frozen Kind

Everyone loves pizza: 5 billion pizzas are sold in the world each year (3 billion alone, in the U.S.) Sadly, not all of them can be from Pete's New Haven Style Apizza... Every once in a while, you have to pop open the freezer and hope for the best. We decided to open our freezers (and ovens) in search of pies worthy of a seat at your dining room table. Here's what we came up with...

Celeste Zesty Original: Abbondanza! Mama Celeste still "rules the roost" with her affordable Pizzas for One (often available for a dollar or less) but there's no denying a noticeable dip in quality from years ago. OK crust, but there's nothing zesty about this cheese, and it's far from filling. Fine if you're on a budget, but I'll take a pass.

Grade: D

Celeste Zesty Original

DiGiorno Tomato Mozzarella with Pesto: DiGiorno has lots of choices; and I settled on their NEW Thin & Crispy 11.4 oz. pie with no artificial flavors and a preservative free crust. I was very impressed with the toppings, especially the cheese. Fresh toppings (diced tomatoes, pesto) covered a crisp crust that had a light, buttery taste to it. Looks great, and I'd definitely buy it again (on sale for $3.50 at Giant Food.)

Grade: B

DiGiorno Tomato Mozzarella with Pesto

Dr. Oetker Pizza Mozzarella: Italy's top frozen pizza "crosses the pond" with impressive results, despite a few extra minutes in the oven (old habits die hard.) This Ristorante pie keeps it simple... thin crust with mozzarella, diced tomatoes and herbs. Crust is cracker-thin, but has just enough chew to keep it interesting. Diced tomatoes and rich sauce surround some of the best cheese found on a frozen pizza. A tad pricey at $5.99, I got lucky and snagged one for half-price at Giant Food.

Grade: B+

Dr. Oetker Pizza Mozzarella

Ellio's Cheese Pizza: Great value, when you consider there's 9 slices available in 3-slice blocks. Even better at $2 a box, on sale. Nice cheese and crust; but as with most frozen pizzas, not much flavor (especially salt.)

Grade: B-

Giant Pizza Deluxe Individual: Italian sausage, pepperoni, red peppers, green peppers and onions for $.89? Only at Giant Food. Kudos for cooking in an conventional oven without curling (like Celeste.) We were also impressed with its flaky crust and generous toppings. Needs salt, but I'd buy it again. Grab six, leave 'em in your freezer and open in case of emergency.

Grade: B-

Giant Pizza Deluxe Individual

Jack's Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza: Jack's has been around since 1960, but this was my first time trying it. All I can say is impressive. Cracker-thin crust was nice & crispy, and suitably covered with 13 pieces of pepperoni and some of the best frozen sausage I've ever had. Jack's tomato sauce had a rich, orange color and plenty of zest; but their pepperoni & Wisconsin cheese left lots to be desired. More positives than negatives, and affordably priced. 17.2 oz. pies available at Walgreens for $3.99.

Grade: B (Great crust and sausage.)

Jack's Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza

Tony's Original Crust Cheese Pizza: I really like Tony's box design; but once you get inside... not so much. I found a 12.69 oz. pizza (normally $3) on sale for just $2 at Giant Food. It needed a few more minutes in the oven (17 total vs. 12-14 as instructed) but even that didn't help the crust (too chewy.) The cheese was unpleasantly pungent, and tasted blah at best. Available in eight flavors... unfortunately I was stuck with only one choice - plain ol' cheese: Wake me when it's over.

Grade: D

Tony's Original Crust Cheese Pizza

Totino's Party Pizza Combination: I'm a fan of Totino's Pizza Rolls; but I was a bit skeptical about their 10.7 oz. personal pizzas... even at the low price of $1.25 (on sale at CVS.) "America's Best Selling Frozen Pizza" (according to Totino's) has a cracker crust that's crisp and (surprise) delicious. Unfortunately, its toppings don't come close to matching the base... making this a "deep freezer option" only.

Grade: C+

Totino's Party Pizza Combination