Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mama Cozzi's Take and Bake Pepperoni Calzone (Aldi)

As far as Aldi's non-pizza take and bake offerings go, this is one of the best.
One day while perusing the Aldi ad, I saw that they would be offering some calzones. I made a mental note to be sure and grab those, but it got lost amidst all the other great things they were offering that week, and so I completely forgot (if only there was something invented on which I could take notes of these things so that I wouldn't forget...) They probably would have totally slipped off my radar had we not gone out of our way to a different Aldi other than the one we frequently patronize, in the hopes of finding some fresh sushi they were advertising. We never did find the sushi (bummer), but on the upside, I did happen to see these, which weren't at our usual store. I grabbed the pepperoni, while my wife stuck with the cheese. 

As is the standard way I hear about something, my wife texted me to give me a rundown of her experience with her cheese calzone. First was something along the lines of “I'm making my calzone,” so that I would be aware she was preparing it, followed up by one telling me how she was going to get marinara for it, because there wasn't any inside (?) There was also one in there about how she was worried there would hardly be any filling inside. Finally, she took a bite and raved about the taste, even including a picture of how ridiculously stringy the cheese inside was. We're usually pretty much on the same wavelength when it comes to foods, so that was a good indication that I would like it, but it's certainly not a guaranteed thing. So one day after coming home from work, and in desperate need for a snack, I microwaved this bad boy, threw it on a plate, and added some marinara.

Oh my word my wife was not lying: these things are fantastic. They cook up almost pillow-soft and are easy to dig into with a fork, or with your hands (though I find them too awkwardly-shaped for comfortable handling with fingers). One of our biggest concerns was that it would be 90% bread, with some cheese and meat thrown in as an afterthought, but the inside is absolutely loaded with thick, stringy cheese and delicious pepperoni. A word of note, however: there is NO sauce of any kind on the inside, which I think I mentioned a little earlier. I don't eat calzones very often at all, so maybe I'm wrong on this, but I always thought most of them came standard-equipped with sauce in the middle. Thankfully, we had some pasta sauce on hand, and it worked fantastically with this, giving it the added tomato flavor we were expecting. (EDIT: A little internet research revealed that no, they do not typically come with sauce of any kind in the middle, and are meant to be dipped in marinara; if this is the case, it's curious that there isn't at least a cup of marinara included for dipping.)

I have to admit I was absolutely dreading this experience, because, while Mama Cozzi's take and bake pizzas are mostly excellent, their other take and bake offerings (breadsticks, wings, mini sausage calzones) have largely been awful. I'm not sure if this is singlehandedly enough to restore my faith in all their non-pizza products, but it's a huge step in the right direction; at $1.99, there's also some amazing value. There really is a lot of meat and cheese on the inside, and the whole thing is large enough to fill up someone with a lesser appetite (I ate it as a snack and it held me over until dinner with no problems). If there are any left when we go back, I'll make sure to pick up a couple more because these blew away my meager expectations.

Overall: 8/10. I've had many different Mama Cozzi's refrigerated (take and bake) products, and while the pizzas are largely fantastic, their non-pizza offerings have bordered on the terrible. Needless to say, we did not have high hopes for these at all. Unexpectedly, these things are absolutely fantastic, cooking up nice and pillow-soft, and loaded with stringy cheese and pepperoni. It should be noted that there is no sauce inside the calzone (something I just learned is standard), and none included for dipping, so you'll have to bust out that old jar of marinara sauce you've had in your pantry for months if you want to add to its flavor. Best of all, they're only $1.99, which is excellent value given how loaded they are—it worked perfectly for me as a bridge between lunch and dinner, but for those with smaller appetites, it could easily function as a main entree. Great stuff, but unfortunately relegated to Special Buy status...if you ever see them, be sure to grab them!

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