Frozen pizza and I—we go back a long way. Mama Celeste cooked for me nearly as much as my actual mom did when I was growing up. By age nine, I’d eaten my way through the Giant freezer aisle. There was Totino’s, with a sweet crust that was as sallow and puffy as a hangover. Bargain basement Elio’s, which snapped into rectangles and had a base that was the texture of a sponge. The best back then were Red Baron, with its buttery crust, and Stouffer’s French bread, with so much cheese you’d think it was your birthday.
Many years later, I sat in the Columbia Heights apartment of my then-boyfriend. It was probably our sixth or seventh date, and as we watched Dexter and he unboxed a DiGiorno’s, I was sure he would become my husband. We had a kid a couple of years ago, and the resulting chaos has had us eating more frozen pie than I care to admit.
The other day, I was at the P Street Whole Foods and I felt my blood sugar plummeting and my head start to ache—I needed lunch, fast. Instead of going for my usual 365 brand pepperoni (pretty good!) I grabbed a shrink-wrapped Roberta’s pie.
Quick primer for those who haven’t been to Brooklyn in awhile: Roberta’s is one of New York’s most beloved pizza joints (it recently expanded to LA). Sam Sifton once called the throbbingly loud, stringlit spot “one of the most extraordinary restaurants in the United States.” Their wood-fired pizza is the kind of thing celebrities and Yelpers go nuts over in equal measure.
Anyway, I paid my 11 bucks (!) got home, and unwrapped the Baby Sinclair, topped with kale, cheddar, Calabrian chilies, and a little garlic (there’s a margherita, too). It calls for a hotter oven than most frozen pies, and you bake it directly on the rack. Here’s what is genius: IT IS READY IN FIVE MINUTES. And what emerges from the oven has the blistered, pillowy/chewy, slightly sour crust you find in DC’s better pizza joints. The kind of crust that is terrible for takeout, since it usually deflates on the way home.
Most frozen pizzas I’d qualify with a “good in a pinch.” This one might fall right into the weekly rotation—sorry Mama Celeste.