Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Didn't Want to Like It

This is a sponsored review by BlogHer and Newman's Own.

I am extremely picky when it comes to pizza.   Maybe that's an understatement.   I like my pizza a certain way and that way only.   I grew up in southern California and we had a little pizzeria that my parents frequented and I loved the Sicilian-style pizza that we'd get a couple of times a month.   I can still remember the mouthwatering meld of flavors, the fluffy - but not doughy - crust, the mounds of cheese, the huge slices of pepperoni and spicy Italian sausage, thick black olives, crispy bell peppers,  and then even more cheese on top of that.   That's what I considered great pizza!  

When I was younger, I might even have referred to those pizzas as a "religious experience."  They were just that good!  One of my best childhood friends even called those pizzas, "Slap your mama good!"   Since then, I've measured almost every other pizza I've had, against it.  Most, if not all, have fallen short.   Having just recently moved from Maine to New York, everyone told me that the pizza here was "to die for" and that once I had a slice of "genuine New York pizza" I'd never eat any other kind.  To make a long story short, I am still alive and will probably remain so if I never have another slice of "genuine New York pizza" ever again.  

Being that my pizza standards are high (by my own estimation), it's not a leap to assume that frozen pizza is not high on my list of things I enjoy or even purchase...that was, until I had the opportunity to try a couple of Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizzas.   Why the openness to trying something that obviously didn't come from that tiny pizzeria in southern California?   It's simple, my family are huge fans of Newman's Own spaghetti sauce!  If I don't spend all day making my own sauce, I always have Newman's Own on hand.  We also love Newman's Own popcorn and lemonade.  I reasoned that if the spaghetti sauce was that good (and it is!), why not try the pizza? 

I was a tad hesitant because in my mind, pizza should not be "thin and crispy" should have a thick hand tossed crust and not crumble like a cracker when you bite into it.   I really wasn't sure what to expect when it came to the pizza, especially being that it was a frozen pizza.  Let's be honest.  Most frozen pizzas taste like the cardboard they're placed on.   I'm not sure whether it's the lack of quality ingredients that go into them, or all the additives, but they just don't taste good.

My husband Gareth, a very discerning Brit, was even more skeptical than I was when it came to a frozen pizza.   Pizza, in general, in the UK, where he grew up, is not even a fraction as popular over there as it is here.  In all the time I lived over in the UK, I can't even remember seeing frozen pizza stocked in most grocery stores.   In general, Gareth doesn't like pizza and will suffer through a slice or two of cheese pizza only whenever we have it delivered.   For the most part, he'd prefer to not eat it.   Frozen pizza is even lower on the list of things he enjoys suffering through.  It's understandable that he wasn't very excited when I told him that we were going to be eating a couple of frozen pizzas for dinner one night.

I took the two boxes of Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizza out of the freezer and set them on the counter.  I bought the Four Cheese and Pepperoni pizzas.  I looked over the list of ingredients and was pleasantly surprised to see that these pizzas have ZERO trans fats and no artificial ingredients either!  "NO" doesn't just stand for "Newman's Own" but it also represents NO modified food starch, NO sodium nitrate, and NO modified corn starch.   The only aspect of baking these pizzas that surprised me is that it's not recommended that you use a cookie sheet...meaning you have to place them directly on the oven rack.  I was worried about melting cheese and pizza toppings falling to the bottom of my oven and then burning, thus creating a huge mess.   That didn't happen! 

I set the timer, made a tossed green salad, set the table and had my preschooler wash her hands before we ate.  By the time we were all done setting the table, the timer went off.   I opened the oven and I have to admit, the smell was wonderful.  Not what I was expecting.   The cheese was bubbly and the sides of the pizzas were a beautiful golden brown color.  As we all sat around the table and took a couple of slices of pizza you could tell, just by looking at one another, that we were not expecting the pizzas to be anything special. 

The first person to take a bite was my uber-picky 4-year-old preschooler.  She instantly proclaimed she "loved it!"    Then came my husband who, after a couple of bites, declared that he wouldn't mind if we had this more often.  What a shock that was, coming from the man who doesn't really like pizza!  Then it was my turn.   What a surprise!  It tasted unlike any frozen pizza I have ever eaten before.  It honestly was that good!  I've never had a thin and crispy pizza crust and I loved it!  The flavors of the cheese and tomato sauce were intense but not overwhelming and the pepperoni on the pepperoni pizza wasn't overly salty yet it was spicy and so good!   I actually ended up really liking the thin and crispy crust!   I wasn't overwhelmed with mouthfuls of dough - like I normally am with a regular hand-tossed crust.   We liked this pizza so much that I went out and bought a couple more Newman's Own Thin and Crispy pizzas to store in the freezer for one of those nights when pizza sounds good and we don't want the expense or all the added artificial ingredients that come along with having a costly pie or two delivered!  I might even go as far as to call  Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizzas, "Slap your mama good!"

In celebration of my delicious new find I am going to be giving away a Newman's Own gift basket valued at $75.   All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite pizza toppings are.    You can find the official BlogHer/Newman's Own contest rules here.

Now, go treat yourself to one of these awesome pizzas!