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Frozen Pizza Review – Culinary Circle Ultra Thin Crust Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza at Albertson’s

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Today I tried out the Culinary Circle Ultra Thin Crust Spicy Italian Sausage pizza. Culinary Circle is a house brand of Albertson’s (SuperValu), whose mission is to create “hef inspired cuisine that mirrors today’s most popular restaurants, Culinary Circle is transforming creative casual dining at home.”

As SuperValu is a grocery mega-holding company, I would assume these products are available in their other stores, like Jewel, Cub, Shop N Save, and others.


CC grinds out appetizers (crackers, dips, spreads, cheese); soups; ethnic entrees (Mexican, Asian, Italian. and Classic(; seasonings and sauces; artisan breads and rolls; and dessert baked goods.

In the pizza arena, they offer both a rising crust and the ultra thin crust, with about a half-dozen topping offerings in each category.

My box touted “rich, traditional tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, diced tomatoes, and spicy Italian sausage.” The nutrition panel lists the sausage as “pork, spices, salt, sugar, flavorings, paprika.” Thank goodness for no poultry pieces! The cheese ingredients are fairly pure, but after that, the ingredients list deteriorates into the usual unpronounceable list of “zenes” and “tenes” and “thins” and “ide” and “ates”. Where would we be without these mystery preservatives and enhancers?

Instructions on the box were to preheat to 425,  remove pizza from carton, overwrap and cardboard (REALLY?), place directly on center oven rack (sorry, I always use a stone), and bake 12-14 minutes until “cheese in the center is melted and crust is golden.”

I’m happy they include the instructions “do not eat the pizza without baking”, aren’t you?

(You know, I am sitting here typing in advance of the actual process, and I have the empty box beside me, and I have to say, the BOX smells awful!)  It’s a combination of that old too frozen smell, and some weird ink that I used to get a whiff of from time to time in China, on  printed materials there.  I wonder where these boxes are printed?    “Best by” date is April 2010, so the product can’t be THAT old.

This pie, according to the box, is 16.6 ounces, not that good of value compared to manyother frozen pies, (Mrs BDB called me from the store once and asked if she should buy me one, and which, I replied, the one that weighs over 22 oz!)   and the cheese is a little skimpy for my tastes, so I am going to add cheese and some additional toppings.  Some would say that’s a not a fair taste comparison, but in my mind (and gullet) it is, since I always order or use the same toppings, I know how the rest of the pie interacts.  OK, I hear you, knock it off, I’ll leave a section of the pie “as is”, and judge that, as well.

At 12 minutes, the pie did not reach the levels of doneness suggested by the cooking instructions, so I went another five minutes; then another six minutes.   The crust never “crisped up”  but I thought maybe it would after removing from the oven, as some frozen bakery products do.  No such luck.

So after 23 minutes, I still had a very limp crust (see the “hang” in the picture, and the topping “slide”,  absolutely unacceptable to me).     I don’t remember what I paid for this pie, probably in the $5 plus range, but for taste, quality, it seemed no different than Totino’s, which are are usually 10 for $10.   So this was  a real disappointment to me, and I won’t be purchasing it again.  For my frozen pizza buck,  CPK, Home Run Inn still lead the pack.  The Safeway house brand is even better than this one.

Culinary Circle gets 2 out of 8 slices

Store locator for Culinary Circle products, click here.

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