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Trader Joe’s Burrata, Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread

Trader Joe's Buratta, Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread 1

Too much of a good thing, in the flesh.

Sometimes too much of a good thing can be too much. Trader Joe’s Burrata, Proscuitto and Arugula Flatbread pizza is an exercise is decadent excess – not dissimilar to their Cookie Butter Cheesecake, or Caligula’s Rome. And like those forebearers, this flatbread tantalizes more than it delivers.

3 star rankingRanking: 3 stars 

What it is: Cheese and prosciutto flatbread
Price: $4.99 for a 12 oz. pizza
Worth it: Yes, but take small bites

On paper this flatbread sounds like it should be about the best thing ever – a hand-stretched, brick oven-fired crust, topped with mozzarella, fontal, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, and burrata cheeses, atop a spread of mascarpone garlic cream sauce, topped with wild baby arugula and marbled slices of prosciutto.

The flatbread comes as a simple kit, ready to be warmed to a crispy golden hue in your own oven, then topped with two broad slices of prosciutto. It sounds perfect, basically.

Unfortunately, all this goodness run into the classic “more isn’t always more” quandary. I usually encounter this in terms of drinking. One drink, and I feel good. Two drinks, and I feel a little better. Three drinks, and hey this is really getting fun! Four drinks, however, and things take a rather unpleasant turn. Trader Joe’s is essentially taking the four drink approach to salty food with this flatbread. Those are some good cheeses, and good cheese sauce, and good prosciutto, but when you put them all together you end up with a flatbread that’s too overwhelming to really bite into.

Trader Joe's Buratta, Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread 2

Straight out of the box.

However, that’s not to say this is a bad flatbread. There’s nothing wrong with the individual components – all of which are very tasty and decadent indeed. The problem comes when you try and eat it like an entree. The servings per container given on the package is 3 slices. I would suggest changing that to 30.

Sliced up into a few big bites, this flatbread is simply too rich with fat and salt to really savor – even if you’ve got a good beer at hand. However, cut it up into smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized bites and you’ve got an instant party classic. When you’ve sized it down to nibbling size, the tongue is given a chance to experience the richness of the soft white cheeses, the supremely savory prosciutto, and the spicy arugula.

Just as the cure for Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Cheesecake was Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites, this sumptuous pizza is better served by smaller servings.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: I would, just not very much of it.

Would I Buy It Again: I’d bring it to a potluck.

Final Synopsis: An overwhelmingly rich flatbread.

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Trader Giotto’s (Joe’s) Bambino Pizza Formaggio

Trader Joe's Bambino Pizza Formaggio 2

Literally “baby cheese pizzas” in Italian.

Reviewing TJ’s 5 Cheese Greek Spiral the other day got me in the mood for other cheese and dough related, disc-shaped appetizers of Mediterranean origin that are suitable for a variety of toppings. By which I mean pizza! Luckily, Trader Joe’s was able to deliver with their Bambino Pizzas Formaggio – a box of 4, tiny little 5″ cheese pizzas that come frozen and ready to get cooked up in your oven.

Ranking: 4 stars 4 star rating

What it is: Mini cheese pizzas
Size: Four 4oz. pizzas.
Worth it: Yes. This is acceptably tasty pizza.

Trader Joe’s has had a variety of these pint-sized pizzas for years – however, they’ve recently debuted an eye-catching new box design that ditches the “boring Italian-food look” for an  aqua blue that really pops out at you. Hey, it worked on me – good job box designers, you’ve tricked my ape brain again!

Aside from the box, there’s nothing really all that innovative about little cheese pizzas you cook at home. These are basically what you’d expect – medium crust, cheese and marinara sauce pizzas about the size of CD’s. What really suckered me in (as it so often does) was the cool name Trader Joe’s stuck on these. Or should I say “Trader Giotto”.

As I’ve talked about time, and time again, the little noms de cuisine Trader Joe’s utilizes both delights and frustrates me. On the one hand, as a borderline insufferable psuedo-intellectual, I treasure these slyly literate winks. “Ho ho”, I think, not unlike Dr. Hibbert, “I wonder if anyone else caught that”. On the other hand, their consistent lack of consistency drives me right up the wall. Case-in-point, Trader Joe’s Guacamole vs Trader Jose’s Spicy Edamame and Guacamole dip.

Trader Joe's Bambino Pizza Formaggio

Trader Joe’s Bambino Pizza Formaggio

Apart from the exotic name, these are actually pretty basic fare – your standard no-fuss, frozen cheese pizzas. However, the execution is pretty much beyond reproach. You’re always going to loose a bit of quality when you scale down a pizza to personal size – you end up with more crust for a lesser amount of sauce and topping (not unlike the miniaturized Trader Joe’s Pot Pies) – however TJ’s does a good job making sure there’s still plenty of rich and tangy marinara sauce, and melty mozzarella cheese to satisfy.

Unlike, say, french fries, pizza is one food that manages to hold up well when frozen. Just pop these in your oven for 11 minutes and they come out bubbling and crispy. It may not be the most exotic thing Trader Joe’s has ever brought to market, but they’re easy to cook and perfectly tasty. And just like our aforementioned 5 Cheese Greek Spiral, they’re easy to dress up with a spring of basil, a few slices of pepperoni, some olives, or you know, whatever. Nothing wrong with that!


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend Them: Sure, everyone can agree on mini-pizzas.

Would I Buy Them Again: I don’t see why not.

Final Synopsis: Yum yum, tasty tiny pizzas.


Trader Giotto’s (Trader Joe’s) Organic Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Broccoli

Trader Joe's Organic Pesto Pizza

Hoo boy – that’s some broccoli alright.

When the Trader Joe’s R&D wonks get bored with putting pumpkin in things, they must just start drawing ingredients out of a hat and dare each other to make food out of them. How else can you explain Trader Joe’s Organic Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Broccoli, the most unusal use of pesto since their Quinoa Pesto.

Trader Joe’s pesto pizza looks like any of their other frozen pizza offerings on the surface, but quickly breaks the mold. In place of a tomato base, it instead uses a rich and savory basil pesto. On to this they layer mozzarella cheese, tomato slices and, strangely, little broccoli florets. Not content to stop there, they replace the standard wheat crust with a crisp, sourdough crust.

Trader Joe's Organic Pesto Pizza 2

Surprisingly, this all somehow works.

The result is a rich-tasting, slightly sour, slightly acidic pizza with plenty of crunch – and surprisingly that works. Each bite is bright and fresh, with a little bit of “zazz” not normally found in the gooey, salty pizza world. Why they added the broccoli I can’t say (this element could have easily been substituted out for a more traditional veggie in my opinion – mushrooms for example) but the pesto base is brilliant, and what ultimately brings the pizza together.

I’ve never had a pesto based pizza before, but it fills each bite with that savory, oily, flavorful taste that really works well with the thin, crispy crust and milder toppings. Although billed as a pizza, this just as easily could be viewed as a pesto-topped flatbread with veggie toppings. The pesto is really the star of the show here, making each bite a savory delight and justifying its otherwise bizarre existence.

The rest of the ingredients are fine – the mozzerlla is sufficient, the tomatoes are a welcome little change to the texture and mellow out the flavor, and the broccoli is forgettable. As a carnivore, I would have preferred some meat on this. Even despite the all veggie topping selection it still misses out on the “Vegetarian” tag for some reason. That said, it still manages to fit in 11 grams of protein per two slice serving, so that’s not bad.

As made clear in the product name, everything in the pizza is laudably organic – from the wheat flour to the olive oil. This is an improvement over the previous incarnation of this pizza, Trader Joe’s Pesto Pizza, which had all the same toppings and was something like 90% organic already. Not an earth-shattering change, but nice. Organic designation aside, the only real reason to pick this up is for the novelty of the pesto. It’s an intriguing take on pizza, and it’d be interesting to see Trader Joe’s introduce some more varieties down the line.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, the pesto is good and the broccoli isn’t as scary as you might think.

Would I Buy It Again: Sure, though I might get some prosciutto to throw on top too.

Final Synopsis: A straight forward pesto flatbread with plenty of zip.


Arabian Joe’s Spicy Spinach Pizzas

Trader Joe's Spicy Spinach Pizza

These puppies are all halal and no haram

One of the little touches that so endears me to Trader Joe’s is the way they slightly tweak their brand name on certain products in order to, I don’t know, infuse it with whimsy or something. What ever the reason, I sorta love it a lot. Whether it be Trader Giotto’s bruschetta or Jo Jo’s Animal Crackers, everytime I see one it gives me that little inward thrill of smug pleasure. “If you look closely you’ll see those taco’s say Trader Jose,” I feel like pointing out to everyone, “I’m pretty clever, so I notice those sorts of things.” Yes intellectual self-wankery, one of the many perks of visiting my neighborhood store.

That said Arabian Joe’s Spinach Pizzas might be slightly too erudite for me, for I did not know previously know that tiny spinach and onion pizzas intersected with the Arabian peninsula. The connection is a little easier to spot when you realize these aren’t actually pizza’s in the sense that most American’s conceptualize the food.

Trader Joe’s Spicy Spinach pizzas are more of a pre-made snack bread, than a mini pizza. Rounds of flat bread, rubbed with olive oil, are topped with a minimal (but still delicious) amount of chopped spinach, onion and spices. Instructions call for a very quick jaunt in the oven (about 3 minutes) and result in some delightfully crispy, deliciously snackable food. Delicious en mass as a meal, or excellent one at a time as an appetizer or meal-rounder-outer (if there is a pretentious French word for that term, by the way, please let me know).

The “pizzas” are flavorful by themselves and, as advertised, a little spicy, but not particularly filling. The bread crisps up well, and makes a good base for additional pizza modifications. I topped one with a bit of prosciutto, which was the tits, and I bet garnishes of olives and feta would be about the same. Live it up – or not. Between their small size (6” diameter) and sparse toppings, they are about the healthiest pizza option as you’re likely to find.

Don’t be put off by the unusual packaging. It looks like you’re just buying a bag of blank pitas, but the toppings are packed facing inwards on both sides for some reason. Check ‘em out in the refrigerated food aisle.

 

Would I Recommend Them: Go at ‘em, they’re good.

 

Would I Buy Them Again: Yep – cheap, tasty & easy to make.

 

Final Synopsis: A tasty alternative to the shlumpy pizza bagel, with the potential to be customized.

 

Trader Joe's Spicy Spinach Pizza - Nutritional Facts