Red Baron Classic Crust 4 Cheese Pizza

Red Baron boxThe other day I was thinking about an ex-boyfriend who really liked Red Baron pizza, and we ate a lot of it. At the time I thought it was best of the frozen pizza choices available at our supermarket in Denver. I hadn’t had it in quite some time, so it seemed like a perfect fit for a review.

I never really thought too much about the name in the past, but lately I’ve wondered… what is the rationale for the reference to a World War II German flying ace? The website will surely tell the story, I thought. It turns out I thought wrong… there was no explanation.

Red Baron 4 Cheese
Not as appealing as I remembered.

Taking the pizza out of the oven, I was disappointed. This was not what I remembered. It looked more like pizza that might be served in an elementary school cafeteria. My first bite reminded me of a saying from an old Simpson’s episode in which Marge proudly proclaims, “The secret ingredient is salt!”.

As there are many varieties of Red Baron pizza, I’m wondering if this was a different one than I liked in the past. Or maybe Denver was so lacking in good pizza options that I was a bit delusional.

Sally’s: Perfection

This was the best pizza I’ve had since the inception of this blog.

My friend, a secretive government agent who would not appreciate being named, said it best:

Excellent chewy crust. Neither round nor square. White clam pizza was delicious. The old fashioned decor and the long rich history make it feel a privilege to eat here.

sallys
Sally’s white clam pizza
sallys2
It’s kind of a dump, but reeks history.

Weight Watchers Smart Ones: Thin Crust Cheese Pizza

I know that microwaveable frozen pizza is bad… especially the “light” varieties. But Reviews of Pizza is no pizza snob! There will be no discrimination based on quality, since real life circumstances dictate that we can’t be eating gourmet pizza everyday.

Smart Ones Thin Crust
Should a pizza described as “crispy-thin” bend like this?

The box promises “a blend of reduced fat cheeses with a tangy tomato sauce on a crispy-thin crust”. Since the Lean Cuisine frozen pizza I reviewed recently was far too doughy, I found the “crispy-thin” description tantalizing. This could be the answer to the dough woes!

When I took it out of the box, I was a little disappointed. There’s just not much to it because it is SSsssooooo flat! Honestly the box is twice as thick as it should be to contain food that’s thinner than my iPhone 5. After microwaving, I had planned to cut it in half but then decided it was unnecessary because there was so little substance.

As for the “crispy-thin” crust… uhhh, well, I would say the result tastes like a steamed cracker. Tangy tomato sauce? Well, if you consider tomato paste tangy you’re in luck!

 

BAR: the art of pizza

bar small
Is there a basil shortage I didn’t know about?

After going to New Haven’s City Wide Open Studios and hearing an amazing artist sing a song about pizza, heading to a pizza place was mandatory! BAR was not too far away and it was early enough for it not to be overcrowded on a Saturday night.

My friend and I decided to be purists and ordered a regular red sauce with mozzarella, adding only basil. I truly believe pizza should be reviewed in its truest form as the addition of toppings can mask a poor quality basic pizza.

When our baking sheet arrived, it was looking delicious! But where was the basil? I mean, there were a few pieces on it, but just not enough. Some pieces (they do not cut actual slices) didn’t have any. Do you need to order double basil? That seems kind of ridiculous.

Aside from the missing basil, the pizza was delicious. I’ve decided that the minimal crust is really just a vehicle for delivering cheese, and whatever toppings you’ve ordered. I would called it a hint of crust, in fact! This is probably why the pizza is served on the baking sheet, because otherwise it would fall apart. The cheese is high quality so I’m fine with their approach.

I do love the pizza at BAR, but as mentioned earlier it’s often crowded so I don’t go here too often. Parking can also be a challenge.

 

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.

 

 

 

Pizza flavored Pringles: as bad as it sounds

In honor of this new venture, I was inspired to purchase a can of Pizza flavored Pringles at CVS. I knew they would be bad, but I was curious to see how bad.pringlespizza

My first thought was… Where’s the pizza flavoring? Do you need to eat more than one at a time? I upped the ante to three chips. A tinge of pizza flavor was detected, mostly tomato. In a blind taste test, I don’t think very many people would identify these chips as pizza flavored.

The appearance of the chips was perhaps the best part. I admire the seemingly random spray patterns of tomato flavoring, leaving the untouched areas to represent cheese.

Overall, I can’t recommend this chip. If you want to buy a can of Pringles there are better flavors. If you want pizza, eating this “pizza flavored” snack is not going to satisfy your craving.