Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Red Baron Deep Dish Singles - Frozen Pepperoni Pizza

While the greatest pizza pleasures are found in the destination pizza parlors like Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon and Gennaro's Tomato Pies in South Philly, I don't dismiss the merits of an occasional cheap-but-tasty frozen pizza.
Red Baron Deep Dish Pizza Single

I've found that the rising-crust frozen pizza from DiGiorno is better than all the big chains and most of the mom-n-pop storefront pizza joints. It's the minimum standard for "Should you really be in the fresh pizza business if there is a better pie in my grocer's freezer?"

With that perspective in mind, I had some hope for the "Deep Dish Singles" with pepperoni offered by Red Baron. The twin-pack was just $2.78 at Bottom Dollar, a discount grocery chain.
Out of the box, before baking

Most frozen pizzas bake directly on a oven rack, but the instructions here called for 22-24 minutes at 375 Fahrenheit, on a baking sheet. Fearing that the baking sheet would mean a soft and crunchless crust, I coated it with some olive oil in the hopes of some crispiness underneath.

Each single pie had a generous amount of cheese and pepperoni. I followed the package directions to bake for 23 minutes, then finished with 2 minutes under the broiler to get some nice browning on top.

The pies had good eye appeal, but the overall experience was disappointing.  The crust was thick and bready - and not soggy - but its texture and flavor were indistinct. If this was a genuine pizza crust, then Pop-Tart is an authentic pastry.
Out of the oven

The cheese and pepperoni were a little better than average, but the sauce said to me "high school cafeteria pizza."
Underside of the pale and bland crust

Cross section

Did I eat the whole thing?  Yes I did - both of them - and enjoyed them. But there's no way I can recommend this pizza, especially when you consider the 420 calories per deep dish single. There are lots of better ways to spend those calories. 

Notably, these are marketed as "deep dish" but not "Chicago style." I think the city of Chicago can be happy about that.
"Trader Giotto's" at Trader Joes, imported from Italy

The best frozen pies we've found are the imported German ones at ALDI and the imported Italian ones at Trader Joe's.  Both of them are about $4 and much better values.

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