The other day I planned to get take out pizza from DeFazio’s, an excellent source in Troy NY. I somehow overshot the store and decided I would purchase a frozen pizza instead. I should add I had broken my arm a couple days previous and was probably addled by pain/prospect of pain meds at home, because this was not a good decision.
To maximize my options, I stopped at one of the larger Price Chopper stores. Man, they carry a lot of frozen pizza—an entire aisle of it, not counting the pizza rolls in the next case over. I settled on the 5 Italian Cheese Pizza from Freschetta—a brand that promised me real cheese and a “Brick Oven™ Crust” (so now you know who owns the trademark “Brick Oven”, right?). I hacked it with chopped pickled cherry peppers, some anchovies and some leftover cooked spinach and cooked according to package directions.
The Freschetta pizza turned out okay…on the low end of pizza store quality…except for a strange, pasty crust that seemed not to include yeast. This experience made me curious and I started exploring “best frozen pizza” on the listicle websites. I found a lot of opinions, not much consensus, but I did see some love for Totino’s, a brand I remember liking in my youth.
I returned to Price Chopper, and discovered the personal size Totino’s Party Pizza (350 calories, 18 g fat) is just $1.25. There’s a code for an Xbox game on the package, so the pizza is effectively free. Feeling like I hit the jackpot, I also picked up a Red Baron Deep Dish Singles (2 for $1.50) and Ellio’s Five Cheese Pizza ($2 for 9 slices). By comparison, the Freschetta had been a stately $5.99.
I’ll cut to the chase and tell you I would not consider buying any of these products again, except maybe Ellio’s which is like an inoffensive cheese bread. The Red Baron was a crime against Chicago Style deep dish pizza. (Didn’t they used to sell that frozen, Uno brand, by the way?) The Totino had an interesting crackery crust but an oily topping that smelled and tasted like used motor oil.
It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to make a frozen pizza that’s within a country mile of fresh baked. And some of the reviewers suggested that house brands, like Wegman’s and Trader Joe, may be okay. But there’s no excuse for the products I tried. Their very existence, and the fact they seem to be selling, makes me sad.