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Humble Pie

Taste-testing frozen pizzas


Arguably, frozen pizza bears little, if any, resemblance to fresh, hand-stretched pizza that is cooked on stone in a wood burning oven. But there are times we are just lazy and want to ramp up the oven, pop in a frozen pie, and watch a game or a movie.

My fearless taste-tester sidekick did not need to be bribed to set up a rigorous study. Pizza, itself, is a bribe to a ten-year-old. For the purpose of the study we cooked all the pizza on a stone in a convection oven. The pizzas below are listed in least to favorite order.

Our least favorite in the blind taste test was the Red Baron Deep Dish Pan Style Four-Cheese Pizza. Although the pizza was adequately covered with cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, provolone and parmesan), the crust was thin, and the sauce lacked pizzazz. The total calories for this individual pizza are 1110; 78 grams of carbohydrates.

The new square Freschetta Brick Oven Fire Baked Crust Pizza with Smoked Ham and Portabella Mushroom has a thin crust and we were disappointed with the sauce. However, the mushrooms did taste like portabellas and the cheese was average in quantity. Total calories: 660; 78 grams of carbs.

Much better was the California Pizza Kitchen Jamaican Jerk Chicken with mozzarella cheese, a spicy and sweet sauce, bits of roasted red peppers, yellow peppers, onion, apple wood smoked bacon, and green onions. This pizza crust was thin (California style), but the toppings were adequately heated while not overcooking the crust. This pizza is from a company that has 140 restaurants and produces seven eclectic frozen pizzas in conjunction with Kraft Pizza Company, a subsidiary of Kraft Foods Inc. Total calories for an individual pizza: 810; 99 grams of carbs.

DiGiorno advertises itself as being like delivery and it does succeed over the vast majority of frozen pizzas. The crust on the DiGiorno Rising Crust Four Cheese Pizza has great texture, is not too thin, cooks well without the toppings becoming overcooked, yet it still has some of that out-of-the-box taste. The bottom of the pizza is dusted with corn meal, which is a nice touch. The four cheeses are mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, and Romano. The sauce, however, is not as flavorful as it could be. Total calories: 810; 110 grams of carbs.

Not only did Perrino's Home Run Inn Premium Cheese Pizza look the best right out of the box, but tasted the best as well. The directions suggest drizzling olive oil over the top of the pizza before baking, which we did. Admittedly, we used a high quality, first press, extra virgin olive oil. Home Run makes a thick-crusted pizza that cooks all the way through without overcooking the toppings. This pizza had the best cheese: the mozzarella actually oozed over the slides and formed an elastic pull when a slice was removed. Of note is the relatively small ingredient list. Also of note is the high calorie count: 1800 calories (without the olive oil); 180 grams of carbs. This pizza also cost the most.

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