Digiorno – Spinach, Mushroom & Garlic

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Huge disappointment. Very plain. I’d greatly prefer a simple Digiorno pepperoni pizza. I noticed the lack of pepperonis more than the presence of mushroom, spinach and garlic.

I’m sure the thickness of the crust played a huge role in my opinion of how plain this tasted and not really noticing the additional ingredients.  Too much dough drowns out the toppings.  I used to prefer thick pizzas, but all the sampling I’ve done these past few years has turned me into a huge fan of thin crusts.

If I can find a thin crust version, I might try it.

Purchased at HEB for $5.47.  30.3 oz, $.18/oz.


Market Pantry – Rising Crust Pepperoni

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Tastes like Digiorno. I consider Digiorno pepperoni pizza to be your average, solid, plain-but-good pepperoni pizza. This is Target’s private label equivalent just like HEB Classic Selections is HEB’s. The Market Pantry and HEB Classic Selections self-rising pepperoni pizzas even weigh exactly the same according to their boxes (28.3 oz), so I suspect they are 100% the same thing but with a different store brand slapped onto the box. Anyway, I like Digiorno, so the comparison is not a bad thing. I’ve been spoiled by all the even better pizzas though so I don’t see myself buying this again.

Purchased for $4.69 at Target.  28.3 oz, $.17/oz.

Sam’s Choice – Pepperoni

Just your standard pizza, but a very good one.  Imagine your typical Digiorno, Red Baron or even basic store brand pepperoni pizza.  Now kick the quality up two notches.  That’s what this pizza is.  Great choice for small gatherings due to its size (38 oz; over 2lbs).

My only problem is if you’re at Walmart (this is a Walmart brand) looking for a large pepperoni pizza to eat with friends, you might as well go for a Sasquatch pepperoni pizza assuming they are in stock. Both pizzas cost $.21 oz, but the Sasquatch was the tiniest bit better. Sasquatch pizzas do cost $2 more (Sasquatch is $10, Sam’s Choice is $8) due to the size difference, so the only reason I’d choose a Sam’s Choice pepperoni pizza over a Sasquatch is if I really need that extra $2 or if I have a burning desire for a pizza that’s 10 oz lighter.

At the end of the day, it’s still a very good, solid choice I’d happily eat again.

Purchased at Walmart for $7.98.  38.30 oz, $.21/oz.

[Non-Frozen] HEB Made in Store – Margherita

I have a ton of leftovers in the fridge I need to eat before they go bad, so of course I decided to buy a pizza instead. I’ve had a huge craving for the HEB Made in Store pepperoni pizza I reviewed a little while back and planned on buying that, but I decided to try their margherita pizza for the sake of reviewing something different.

This pizza was nearly perfect in its simplicity. The perfectly crispy crust and volumes of gooey but not too greasy cheese were delightful. Unfortunately, I did not like the tomatoes. They were overly salty and overpowered every other flavor. Guess this means I really wanted a cheese pizza, not margherita. This one caveat is the only thing preventing the pizza from being essentially perfect. That’s ok, I’ll just stick with the regular pepperoni pizza while still recommending the margherita to anyone who’s curious.

Purchased at HEB for $7.99. 17.40 oz, $.46/oz.

Screamin’ Sicilian – Spicy Clucker

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I had high hopes for this. Not only is Screamin’ Sicilian’s “Holy Pepperoni” variety excellent, but multiple people have asked me about this brand which happens to be one of HEB’s fastest selling pizza brands. I think it’s the eye-catching packaging. I unfortunately didn’t care for the Spicy Clucker. It lived up to the spicy name, but I can say now that pizza is shockingly one of the few things bacon does not improve. I also didn’t like the cheese, and nothing about the chicken stood out (unlike the excellent Dr. Oetker Pizza Pollo). Not necessarily bad, but all around forgettable.

Purchased at HEB for $6.95.  21.85 oz, $.32/oz.

Mia Fresca – Pepperoni & Garlic

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Tonight I must thank the Pizza Gods, for tonight the Pizza Gods hath delivered to me heaven on a carb-based platform. That is an overly dramatic way of saying this stuff is excellent. I’ve gotten to the point where it’s hard not to rehash the same old lines every time now that I’ve reviewed 85 pizzas (not all reviews have been posted).

I think the relatively minimal amount of tomato sauce was the driving force that made this sing to me. I tend to prefer more cheese and less sauce than is presented on most pizzas. Mia Fresca’s offering did not seem to have more cheese than usual, but there certainly seemed to be a little less sauce which upped the cheese:sauce ratio.

It helps that the cheese was not greasy at all. Too much grease makes me sick.

The roasted garlic was the perfect topper as it gently enhanced the flavor without getting in the way the slightest. If the minimal sauce let the cheese shine, the garlic propped it up that much more.

The pepperonis were perfect. Cannot say much more.

The price hurts a little ($.45/oz for this vs $.17/oz for your typical Red Baron and Digiorno types), but it’s worth it. I’ll buy this again soon.

Mamma Mia this pizza was Fresca!  Had to work that in somehow.

Purchased as Walmart for $5.97. 13.15 oz, $.45/oz.

High (Temperature) Times from Reddit

My dad told me about a post he found on Reddit* suggesting an alternate strategy for baking pizza.  Inspired by brick oven pizza eateries, the post recommends eschewing the instructions on your frozen pizza packaging and instead following these 3 steps;

  1. Let your frozen pizza thaw
  2. Preheat your oven to its highest setting
  3. Bake your pizza for a few minutes

*I’ll add a link directly to the Reddit post once I find it.

Edit – here’s the link.

Instead of trying a new pizza tonight, I decided to cook a previously reviewed favorite using this method.  The subject?  Dr. Oekter’s Virtuoso (formerly called “Ristorante”) Pepperoni Pesto.

The box suggested I keep the pizza frozen while preheating, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then bake for 12-14 minutes.  Instead, I set the oven to 525 degrees (the highest it will go), thawed the pizza, and baked it for 6 minutes.

Verdict: it’s good!

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It’s hard to say if I prefer this method over obeying Dr. Oetker’s commands, but the pizza tasted great.  I’d have to cook two side by side (one following the printed instructions and one following this method) to tell.  Makes me wish I bought that double oven instead of a single.

I was disappointed the crust wasn’t crispier, but this disappoint led to an epiphany; I should let my pizzas sit on the pizza stone for a few minutes after they’re done cooking.  The packaging for this particular pizza didn’t say anything about doing so, but I always ignore such instructions when I do see them because seriously, who wants to eat a pizza in five minutes when you can eat it now?

This shouldn’t be a surprise, but the last four slices I pulled off the stone were crispier than the first four. The first four slices were pulled off about a minute after I removed the pizza from the oven.  They were good but not crispy.  The next two slices were pulled off maybe five minutes later.  Not exactly crispy but no doubt crispier.  When I pulled the final two slices another five minutes later, they were unfortunately no crispier than the prior two although they were just as tasty.

Speaking of the pizza stone, I should say I frequently see instructions recommending I place my frozen pizza directly on the oven rack and not on a pizza stone.  Sorry Pizza Gods, but I’m lazy.  Tried it once.  Got pizza crust stuck to my rack (I’m a guy, no rack jokes necessary).  Took more than a minute to clean it off.  Nope, not doing that again.

I should, however, listen to suggestions on how high to place the pizza (bottom, middle or high rack).  I never do.  Curious to see what difference that makes.

Overall, this was a success.  I think I’ll try this method from now on whenever baking a pizza I’ve already reviewed.  Let’s see if I start to notice a significant difference.

On one final note, Pizza Dog has a knack for waking from a dead sleep and materializing in front of the oven at the most opportune times.

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Too bad he never gets to eat any pizza.  All mine!