Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mama Cozzi's 16" Italian Meat Thin Crust Take and Bake Pizza

Pretty delicious.

Whenever my wife doesn’t want to cook, or we’re just looking for something quick and easy, Aldi’s take and bake pizzas are our most frequent go-to option.  They are cheap (a 16” will run you no more than $5.99), and so easy even I can toss one in the oven.  Not to mention they are actually pretty good for the price.  No, you won’t be getting anything near the equivalent of a gourmet pizza straight from Italy, but then again in that price range, you shouldn’t expect one.  What we do agree on is that a take and bake pie from Aldi’s is better than most delivery pizzas nearby, and for half the cost.

Aldi always carries the “typical” pizzas (pepperoni, cheese, sausage, The Works, and a 14” Ultimate Meat pizza are among their year-round offerings), but also offer seasonal take and bakes as Special Buys, which are items carried in limited quantities that are not replenished once stock runs out.  Their latest, and one we hadn’t tried yet, was an Italian Meat pizza.  Truth be told, I actually got this to eat myself, since my wife is generally not a fan of meaty pizzas, but we agreed to save some cash on delivery, and just eat this for a nice, relaxing Friday night at home with a movie.

What really drew me in to this pizza is the addition of some delicious-looking circular hunks of Italian sausage, which are featured as a topping, along with pepperoni, their regular large chunks of sausage, and a blend of five different cheeses.  Let’s see you get a pizza like that for under $10 from a delivery or carryout chain!

As with most of the others we have tried (BBQ Chicken pizza notwithstanding), this pizza was delicious.  In fact, it’s better than most of the others we have tried from Aldi.  I was a little afraid the two sausages would be too similar in flavor that they would essentially cancel each other out.  But both of them were different enough to compliment each other very well (the sausage hunks were more an “American” sausage while the round cuts are more Italian-style).  The cheese blend is also a step above their typical cheese, and while I can’t even pretend to pick out the different styles, you can clearly tell it’s not just mozzarella.  The thin crust, after about fourteen minutes in the oven, was perfectly crispy, and provided the nice, crunchy foundation for the rest.

Of course, there’s a crap-ton of salt in here, to the point that I felt my mouth “tingling” from “sodium burn” after a few pieces.  But thankfully, it doesn’t really affect the taste all that much.  And I’m sure no one buys a meat pizza from a supermarket and expects it to be even remotely healthy, but just wanted to toss that out there regardless.

Overall: 8/10.  While just about all of Aldi‘s take and bake pizzas are good (BBQ Chicken notwithstanding), their Italian Meat pizza is even better than that.  The cracker-thin crust was perfectly crunchy after about fourteen minutes in the oven, the five-cheese blend is a step above their usual, and the flavors of the different meats compliment each other very well.  It might not be saying much, but this is better than the pies at most delivery pizza chains, and for only $6.  Of course, it’s so high in sodium, you can literally taste it, but given the fact it’s a.) a supermarket pizza, and b.) covered in meats, that should come as a surprise to no one.  If you are into this sort of thing, I definitely recommend that you give this a shot.

Mama Cozzi's Hawaiian Style Large Thin Crust Take and Bake Pizza (Aldi)

A pre-devoured Hawaiian pizza.
Well I had just reviewed Mama Cozzi’s own Italian Meat take and bake pizza, and called it one of the best I’ve had from the supermarket chain.  How was I to know that it would be topped just a couple of nights later?

Also a Special Buy, in that once it’s sold out, it’s gone, Mama Cozzi’s Take and Bake Hawaiian pizza is just what you would expect from such a pizza, except for one semi-odd thing:  Instead of pizza sauce, it has barbecue.  Now for me, that wasn’t much of a big deal, as I rarely eat Hawaiian pizzas.  But my wife, who has eaten a few in her day, was a lot more apprehensive of the sauce switch.

The unique thing about this pizza, is at a quick glance, you’re not going to see any pineapple on it whatsoever.  That’s because there isn’t any on it.  Instead, it comes in a separate plastic container, and you put it on yourself right before baking. This prevents the pineapple from getting too mushy, or getting everything else too soggy.  It also keeps the pineapple fresh, to the point that it tastes like a freshly-cut pineapple.  I was expecting it to be more akin to canned pineapple, but even once it’s cooked, it’s very sweet, very juicy, and very flavorful.

The ham appears in paper-thin chunks, yet is still the perfect counter to the sweetness of the pineapple.  In fact, the ham’s thinness is actually a good thing, as it avoids the taste of being overly salty, something that plagues a lot of Aldi’s take and bake meat pizzas (and a lot of meaty pizzas in general).  The cheese is standard stuff; good, but nothing spectacular to write home about.  However, the addition of the barbecue sauce is a truly inspired moment, as the sweetness of the barbecue perfectly compliments the sweetness of the pineapple.  Even my wife was impressed, giving this pizza surprisingly high marks, and obliterating her skepticism of trading pizza sauce for barbecue.

This pizza is also only available in thin crust, so those that enjoy their pizzas a little more traditional and thick, might want to think twice before purchasing.  However, much like the Italian Meat pizza, it only took about 14 minutes to get a perfect crisp on the cracker-thin crust, and I felt the crispiness made the pizza even more enjoyable.  If you see this one, and aren’t opposed to pineapple on your pizza, I strongly urge you to pick this one up!

Overall: 8.5/10.  A delicious Hawaiian pizza that replaces pizza sauce with barbecue.  Wisely, the pineapple is left off the pizza, and included in a separate plastic pouch, which keeps it fresher, and from getting everything else too soggy.  Tastewise, the sweetness of the barbecue mixes perfectly with the sweetness of the pineapple, while the paper-thin ham chunks provide just the perfect amount of salty to balance everything out (while preventing it from being too salty, like many other Aldi take and bakes are). One of the best of Aldi's take and bakes, and we've tried just about all of them!