For as long as I can remember, my answer to the oft-asked question, “What’s your favorite food?”, has always been “pizza!” I love it in any form: from cafeteria-style to bad buffet to frozen to home-delivered to homemade to wood-fired at a nice restaurant.
I do have my favorites, though. I’m a die-hard Papa John’s fan for the best chain restaurant, home delivery pizza (thin-crust Domino’s is a nostalgic favorite as well). For local pizza eateries across the South, my picks are D’Allesandro’s in Charleston, Antico in Atlanta, Vinny Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, and Garage Bar in Louisville. In Nashville, where I live, we’re lucky to have an abundance of top-tier pies at DeSano’s, City House, Nicky’s Coal Fired, Slim & Husky’s, Five Points and my most recent favorite, Folk. If you want to DIY, start with this outstanding dough recipe from Roberta’s in NYC.
But when it comes to frozen pies, I am not an expert. That in mind, I dutifully pitched our editor an article in which I review frozen pizzas, and I was pleasantly surprised to be granted approval. Here is my scientifically precise review of seven frozen pizzas commonly found in grocery stores across the South — including prices. And in an effort to keep an even playing field, I only reviewed cheese pizzas. Here, they are listed in order from last place to first. Let’s get started!
7. Amy’s Cheese Pizza
Amy’s is likely my most consumed frozen food brand since it’s organic and uses whole food ingredients. Their Light & Lean pasta and veggie bowl is one of my go-to fast lunches, and their veggie burgers are legitimately tasty. So it pains me to say that this pizza is, to put it kindly, not good. The sauce is oddly sweet, the cheese was plasticky, and the crust was bland. Thus, the reason this pie landed at the bottom of the list.
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6. Screamin’ Sicilian Bessie’s Revenge Cheese Pizza
The Screamin’ Sicilian marketing team deserves an award. I almost didn’t buy this pizza because it was much more expensive than the others, but it just looked so darn cheesy and delicious. Plus, I noticed it was on sale for nearly 50% off. However, this frozen pie was the most appetizing one I saw, and unfortunately it was the biggest disappointment. Instead of being decadent and tasty, it was flat and one-tone in flavor.
5. Totino’s Triple Cheese Party Pizza
I’m aware this will be a controversial ranking. I’ve discovered you are either #teamTotinos or #teamIhateTotinositshouldnotevenbeconsideredrealfood. As sophisticated as I like to think my palate is, I’m firmly on #teamTotinos. The flaky crust, the smaller portion size, the sparse, weird mix of cheeses and the sauce. The SAUCE! Herby, savory and zesty — this is the sauce of your favorite childhood pizza. Totino’s is the pizza version of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The only reason I didn’t rank it higher is because I know that so many people detest it.
4. California Pizza Kitchen Four Cheese Pizza
I’m not really a CPK kind of girl. I like a little more bite to the crust, and their sauce is slightly sweet. I did sample the plain cheese and the four cheese for testing purposes, and the four cheese was the obvious winner. The crust is thin and flaky, and the cheese assortment made this version much better than the plain cheese. I’m ranking it fourth place because its crust held up really well the next day when reheated for lunch — something I can’t say for all of the pies on this list.
3. Simple Truth Organic 3 Cheese Pizza
This is the sleeper hit of the bunch. Kroger’s organic private label brand exceeded all expectations with its slightly tangy crust and solid cheese situation. Upon first bite, this pie was good. When I compared it to the other two pizzas I was sampling that night, this one stood out in its long game; I kept coming back to it. Though it’s basic, the quality is really good.
2. Home Run Inn Classic Cheese Pizza
Before this taste test adventure, I was a Home Run Inn Pizza newbie. If you do a little internet research, you’ll find this brand near (or at the top of) several “best pizza” lists, so I had to add it to my review list. If the number one spot relied on the quality of cheese alone, this pizza is the clear winner. Before it’s baked, the cheese on the pizza looks melted already — unlike any other frozen pizza I’ve seen. The flavor of the cheese reminded me of Papa John’s, so it’s no surprise I favored it. When you cut the pizza, the cheese actually pulls apart in strings and then melts over the edge of each piece, just like you see in pizza commercials yet rarely experience in real life. However, this pizza has one major downfall: the crust. It’s slightly buttery, which you’d think would be good. However, it’s reminiscent of a dry breadstick from your grandma’s favorite strip mall restaurant. It didn’t brown in the oven. The outer-lying edge barely even existed, and what little did exist was tasteless. Thus, the second-place ranking. The cheese makes up for the crust, but not enough to secure first place.
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1. Freschetta Brick Oven Crust Five Cheese Pizza
I loved this pizza. The dough tastes fresh and puffy and, shockingly, slightly similar to a brick oven pizza. The cheese is perfectly distributed, and you can taste the asiago, parmesan and mozzarella. The tomatoes in the sauce appear freshly burst, and it comes out of the oven with an almost even ratio of sauce to cheese. One caveat: You need to bake this on the bottom rack in your oven for the bottom of the crust to cook. As Paul Hollywood from “The Great British Bake Off” would say, “If you get ‘the bake’ right, it elevates this frozen pizza to near-restaurant quality.”
Now that I’ve sacrificed my waistline for a full month of eating frozen pizza every weekend, I’d love to hear your feedback! Did I miss a brand I should have tried? Are you Team Totino’s or Team #Totinosisnotfood? Do you love Freschetta as much as I do? Email me at [email protected] and let me know!
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