Abate Restaurant: blind taste test at The Grove

“It’s something I would eat after a hangover.”

62% found this cheese pizza from Abate's Restaurant greasy.
62% found this cheese pizza from Abate’s Restaurant greasy.

With eight responses in, the overall rating for Abate Restaurant’s cheese pizza is a 3.75 on a scale of 1 (awful) to 5 (amazing). The equivalent of a C+ or B-.

“Nice thin crust, just the right amount of cheese.”

When it comes to the specific elements of crust, sauce, and cheese, opinions differed quite a bit. One person selected “amazing” for the crust while most others only rated it “OK”. The cheese was most commonly rated “pretty good” while I personally rated it “not good”.

The reason for this discrepancy may be the level of grease. Two-thirds of those surveyed selected the word “greasy” to describe Abate’s pizza… I’m not a fan of this style. The next most popular descriptor was “fresh” (50%) followed by “bland” (37.5%).

The most popular scenario for eating this pizza is “the restaurant is downstairs and I am starving” (85%), while no one said it “a place to take an out of town friend who wanted to try New Haven pizza”.

View the complete results of the survey.

Pizza on the run: Red Tomado

After a job interview that ran late (for a good reason), I realized I would have nothing to make for lunch when I got home. Mentally reviewing my quick, nearby options, I decided to give Red Tomado a try. I heard they make custom pizzas, Chipotle-style, that are out of a special oven in 2 minutes!

Red Tomado pizza
Ready in two minutes, amazing!

When I arrived the staff could sense I was a new customer and gave me the low-down. All pizzas come in a standard 12-inch size, and you can either choose your own ingredients or pick from a few pre-designed options. I chose to make my own and went with marinara sauce (other options included BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, or pesto), eggplant, red peppers, and black olives.

At first bite, I liked the pizza, but it’s definitely not typical New Haven style, and realistically it’s not intended to be. It was quite doughy and the only crispness was in a few places on the crust. I thought the sauce seemed bland, but that may be my own fault. You are given the option to add oregano, garlic, and some other spices and I elected not to.

I think this restaurant is a good fast fresh option for downtown New Haven. However, it may not satisfy the refined palette of the city’s pizza elite.

Grand Apizza: a blind taste test at The Grove

Having a slice of pizza on your own is one thing, but pizza is much better shared! It’s a chance to talk about what you like or don’t like, what your favorite pizza place is, and exchange local knowledge.

My dad managed a pizza place in New Haven for about 30 years that was excellent, but overshadowed by other more well known places like Peppe’s and Sally’s. I wondered if knowing where a pizza came from would influence how it was perceived, and decided to conduct a blind pizza taste test!

Grand Grove
Grand Apizza at The Grove. Thanks for your help with the survey everyone!

Ten co-workers at The Grove were given a slice without knowing who made it and asked to answer a seven question online survey. The results are in, and Grand Apizza is pretty good! I have to agree, they are near my house and I wouldn’t think about ordering from any other nearby pizza establishment.

The sauce seemed to be the most impressive element of the pizza, getting slightly higher marks than the cheese and crust. Seven out of ten respondents selected “fresh” and “sweet” as adjectives to describe it. No one thought it was bland.

Here’s a link to the complete survey results.

Lean Cuisine Four Cheese Pizza: a paradox

I’ve purchased many Lean Cuisine Four Cheese Pizzas in my life, and almost every time I am finished eating one I tell myself to never buy another one. To be fair, I might not have bought this one except for this blog.

When I open the microwaveable box I get my hopes up for a minute, because I can imagine the pizza coming out OK. I feel kind of like a secret agent while placing the frozen pizza onto the flipped open silver coated interior of the box, or maybe like an origami artist.

When the two minute microwave cooking time was over, I instantly remembered one annoying flaw… the center of the pizza doesn’t cook right! How can this be? It surely took an engineering team at Nestle a lot of time to devise this special microwave box contraption! Didn’t they notice? I begrudgingly put the pizza on a regular plate and back into the microwave for 15 seconds.

Lean Cuisine photo
Why so much dough?

Upon removing the now cooked pizza, my hopes faded a little. I think this is actually one frozen food that looks worse cooked! As I cut up the pizza another one of my past criticisms resurfaces… the proportion of elements is roughly 90% dough, 5% sauce and 5% cheese. I don’t know what they should be ideally, but not that.

And then there is the taste… just poor. Once I again I remind myself not to buy it in the future. Mostly what I taste is the dough with an acidic tomato sauce and a hint of cheese-like substance. In fact, I would have to say that overall Lean Cuisine Four Cheese Pizza is really a pizza-like substance.

Celeste Pizza For One

When I saw the small box stuffed in an awkward spot of the frozen food section, I was immediately skeptical of this product’s quality.  From its location at the very top of the freezer compartment, near the door frame separating sections, I got the feeling the store wasn’t proud to be selling Celeste Pizza For One.

I vaguely remembered this product from the ancient past, but it had been a long time since I actually noticed one in a store. At $1.59, I was curious. If it turned out to be inedible, at least this pizza wouldn’t be a large investment.

The instructions said the pizza could either be baked or microwaved. I thought microwaving it would definitely result in something horrible, so I opted for a 15 minute bake in my toaster.

celeste pizza for one

The finished product looked a little over baked, but that may have been my fault. And I actually prefer pizza to be overdone rather than underdone. The appearance was better than I expected.

With the first bite, I noticed the crust tasted kind of funny. Like a WonderBread of pizza crusts, it was not crunchy enough and bland. The sauce had a bit of tanginess, which I enjoyed, and while the cheese was clearly not of high quality, I’ve had worse on a personal frozen pizza. Overall, this pizza was not something I’d buy again but my dread at trying it was unfounded.