Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Mama Cozzi's Take & Bake Thin Crust Pizza (Sausage and Pepperoni)

For decades, pizza lovers have had the quick-fix option of frozen pizza to bake at home. Although the quality of frozen pizza has improved substantially, it still lags well behind the better pies that you can make yourself or buy from a pizzeria.
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.

15 comments:

  1. We love these pizzas! Great time- and sanity-saver on a busy night. It feeds my family of five (kids all in middle school)...I add a salad (the Aldi "kale, yeah" is a favorite) and call it good.

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  2. Kale! I haven't seen that at my ALDI in Pennsylvania.

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  3. Just bought a Mama Cozzi cheeseburger pizza today and had it for supper. This was the most horrid pizza ever!!! We took the pickles off and threw them away but it tasted like they spilled pickle juice on the pizza. I've had numerous cheeseburger pizzas before but never one like this. Aside from the pickle juice taste, they wanted to create a home run so they also added ketchup and mustard to this creation. I ain't lyin'!! Gotta throw this crap away. I bet crack heads wouldn't eat this!

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  4. love their cheese pie. I add mushrooms or onions or my own pepperoni and additional oregano and garlic

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  5. LOL, Thanks for the feedback! Good nows is that you only wasted a few bucks on the cheeseburger pie.

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  6. Aldi will occasionally offer a limited time only pizza flavor (like the aforementioned disgusting cheeseburger mess). One that is a homerun is their Philly cheesesteak. If you see it. Buy it. It's not going to be there for long if you don't. They are fantastic!

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  7. Thanks Melissa - will be on the lookout for the Philly pie. Right now my ALDI (suburban Philly) is featuring lots of flatbread style stuff.

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  8. We have been eating Aldi pizza on an almost weekly basis on movie night for months and have never been disappointed. Pepperoni is my favorite, but their other offerings are good too. None of the varieties skimp on toppings. My sons really like their Buffalo chicken pizza (hot!), but they don't have that one very often. I'm not a Philly fan, but the boys love that one too. And the price cannot be beat. Aldi rocks.

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  9. I just can't go to a regular supermarket after ALDI. The selection is small, but the price is great and the quality is consistent.

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  10. My husband and I tried this pizza in light of all the good reviews. BIG MISTAKE! The crust reminded me of Totinos,the cheap 99 cent pizza you can get a Kroger. Crappy crust with an attempt to disguise it with better toppings.
    Afterwards we both drank some sodium-bicarbonate to relieve us of the greasy after-effects. To this day I'm not allowed to bring up that Pizza in conversation anymore because the mere mention of it brings the nauseating feelings back.

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  11. Tweetus, Sorry you didn't enjoy it! Certainly, I have to "adjust my expectations" when eating supermarket pizza. Your mileage may vary!
    PQ

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  12. I and several friends love The Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza with "THIN CRUST" from Aldi. Not a fan of chewy doughy crust. As thin and crispy as it is, it holds up well with additional added ingredients. ( We take the entire rack out of oven and slide the pizza on it and then return to the oven as it is so large to handle. We saute' Fresh sliced mushrooms along with strips from one green pepper in a little olive oil and sprinkle it with, Onion & garlic powder along with additional Italian Seasonings and Red Pepper flakes. Also thin slices of Roma Tomatoes or sliced cherry tomatoes halves that we put on the pizza cut side up so juice does not make pizza soggy, Sprinkle a little more Mozzarella cheese. Its the best we've had. Most Pizzas delivered from our local pizza restaurants, the crust is soft and lost its crispiness by the time it gets delivered.. I give this pizza 5 stars out of 5

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    1. Nice approach! I always doctor up a frozen pie, too.

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  13. Really enjoy the Supreme traditional crust pizza. Just don't follow the directions as the crust will be horrible. Crank the oven to 500 and cook for 10 minutes and it's excellent!

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    1. Indeed. Unless your pie is in a pan, higher heat is almost always better.

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