|Mama Cozzi's Thin-crust Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza|
One recent "convenience pizza" development is the "take and bake" refrigerated pizza. These began in specialty shops, such as Mom Mom's Take and Bake, in Newtown PA. (Bonus trivia - Mom Mom's was shown in the 2002 film Signs that was shot in Bucks County, PA). At these specialty stores, you could order a customized pie on a par-baked crust, then take it home for the full bake. As I recall, the Spinach Salad pizza at Mom Mom's was especially tasty.
Within the last five years, the refrigerated take and bake pizzas have begun to show up in just about every supermarket. They seem to be priced as loss leaders - big pizzas, loaded with toppings, in the $5 to $8 range. A few years ago, we tried the Artisan Take and Bake pizza from Costco - full review is HERE.
Being ALDI fans in general, we also tried the ALDI version, Mama Cozzi's Italian Meat Pizza - full review HERE. It was a thin-crust pie that remained chewy, not crackerlike, after baking. Recently in the local ALDI, I saw a large variety of take and bake pies, but was drawn (again) to the thin-crust one. It seems as if the Italian Meat pizza has been re-badged as a simple Sausage and Pepperoni pizza with a blend of mozzarella and provolone (compared to the "five cheeses" of the Italian Meat pizza).
|Right out the freezer, in shrink wrap, before baking|
The instructions changed a bit, too, with recommended baking time of 10-16 minutes instead of 10-14. Before baking, I removed all the meat and then distributed it more evenly on the pie, and I cut each large pepperoni slice into two bite-sized pieces. I also added a bit of sweet yellow peppers and purple onion.
|Post bake, before slicing|
I followed the directions and baked it at 400 degrees. I put it on a low rack, with my Baking Steel on another rack six inches above to better deliver top heat.To reach an ideal state of crispness, I often need to cook frozen or take/bake pizzas longer than indicated by package directions, and then finish them under the broiler to get some top browning. However, I checked this one at 12 minutes and it seemed done underneath and on top.
|Sliced and ready to eat|
I gave it a traditional cut into 8 triangles for serving. The first thing we noticed was the thin and crackerlike crust. This one was not chewy like the Italian Meat pie; it was crisp (yet dense), crunchy, and it had an excellent flavor.
|Click to enlarge|
Every other ingredient was a role player; the sauce and cheese and meats surely contributed to a well-balanced taste and texture, but none stood out as especially good or lacking.
I think the regular price on this 16" pizza is $4.99; I found it on special for $3.49. At either price point, this is a tasty pizza that sits - without shame - about halfway between a good cracker-thin crust Midwest pie like Rubino's (full review HERE) and the cheapest thin cracker frozen from Totino's.
|A close look at the thin crackerlike crust|
|Underside of the crust|
There is no such thing as a good low-calorie pizza, but this entire pie clocks in at 1900 calories, so if you eat half of it, you're still under 1000 calories. That puts this pie on the low end of the pizza calorie spectrum. Scary, perhaps, but then don't even look at the calories on some of the meat-laden self-rising frozen pies you can get.
This pizza was better than what you get from the large chains, better than most frozen pizza, and even better than most mom-and-pop storefront pizzas. It's not grand or gourmet, but like most things ALDI, it was pretty good and very inexpensive. We'll have it again, no doubt.