What it is: Wood-fired brick-oven style frozen pizza with fresh toppings
Bonnie: “Seriously?” I asked my friend Janet who was doing PR for a small Connecticut company. “You really want us to sample and consider a local frozen pizza for the site? You know that we’re quite finicky about our pizza, being used to New Haven’s brick-oven pies.”
She swore that these pies were outstanding and that after tasting them, we’d find the pizza something we’d want to recommend to the Bite of the Best community.
So, to try to help a friend, I told her to have the company send us samples.
Little did we know that we’d all find the pizza worthy of writing about. Our favorite — not the one to try if you’re trying to control calories or fat — is the unusual Buffalo Chicken Pizza topped with mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses, blue cheese dressing, Buffalo sauce and chicken.
The others — topped with fresh all-natural ingredients — are tasty too, but we all thought the Buffalo Chicken one unusual and worthy of sharing even thought its sauce is not all natural.
I learned from owner Mike Pappas that he uses his Greek grandmother’s pizza crust recipe, making them with a red spring wheat flour that gives the crust a hearty taste and crisp texture. The crusts are not baked in a wood-fired brick oven; they’re brick-oven style, topped with interesting ingredients. Each 1/4-pie serving contains a half a serving (8 grams) whole grains, and all but the Buffalo Chicken variety currently say so on the box.
“The thought was, a person purchasing Buffalo Chicken Pizza does not care about the whole grain goodness,” explained Pappas. A mistake, he admits, and he does plan to add it to future boxes.
Bryan: Eeewwwww, what’s that bluish spot in the cheese there? Is that mold on a frozen pizza – is that even possible? Do you think I can pick it off or is the whole thing ruined?
“That’s gorgonzola cheese,” I said to Bonnie and Eric. “I guess it’s kinda mold, but it’s perfectly fine to eat. In fact, it’s delicious to eat.”
I would have made fun of Bonnie and Eric for their culinary confusion upon opening the box, if only I hadn’t done the exact same thing the first time I sat down in front of a steaming hot Aliki frozen Buffalo Chicken Style Pizza. Each of us had recently received a press kit from Aliki Foods but I had gotten into mine before they had, able to get a sneak peek and a first taste. The small Connecticut-based company specializes in flavorful frozen pizzas and had sent along their wares for our sampling and review. Though very tasty, I have to say that some of their offerings were quite basic (Four Cheese, Margherita, Pepperoni). I guess you have to play to some of the classics if you’re a pizza maker, but I was expecting specialties from a boutique manufacturer such as this…. and then my mind was completely changed with I heated up the Buffalo Chicken pizza.
I love and am amazed by the progress and development continuously made to frozen pizza. The business almost seems to move as fast as the home computer industry; every year there are new products, a new microwavable crisping box, a quicker cooking time, more toppings and better quality. What is also refreshing is that small companies are continuously emerging in this game, putting out products that do not rival the big food company’s distribution circles, but are sometimes leaps and bounds ahead in flavor!
This is one of the best frozen pizzas I’ve ever tried. The Aliki’s pies take only 8-11 minutes to bake to crispy perfection in your home oven, tossed directly onto your center rack from the freezer. This one is not a health food recommend though; this is a tasty product, end of story. Tons of melted cheese topped with Buffalo-flavored breaded chicken pieces and just a hint of blue cheese. Each slice drips with oily cheesy goodness, graciously buttressed by a crisp, hard crust. Yes, the small companies are a bit harder to locate than your standard take-home pizza (Aliki pizzas are generally available at BJ’s and Costco), but they are so worth the extra effort. And yes, you can eat that moldy spot — or just call me and I’ll come eat it.
Eric: I pride myself on the fact that I grew up in New Haven, CT. Why? Because I can easily argue that I lived in an area that has some of the original and best pizzerias. And honestly, what’s better than a slice of pizza? Depending on where you live in the country you might argue that pizza has thin crust or thick crust, should be deep-dish or have pineapple on top, but in the end, whatever we consider as pizza, it’s usually all the same – dough, sauce and cheese. One argument I will put forward is that the best pizza (with regard to crust and taste) is baked in a brick oven.
Coming from New Haven, I always found it difficult to enjoy a frozen pizza – I almost looked on it as if it were a sin to take a pizza from the freezer and heat in the oven, I would usually prefer to just buy the dough and bake a pizza myself (or throw one on the grill – but that’s a different lesson). When I tasted my first bite of the Aliki frozen pizza, I was taken aback – I had never anticipated such a delicious taste from a pizza that was frozen 10 minutes earlier.
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