From the Freezer: California Pizza Kitchen's Margherita
Slice has had a fair amount of frozen pizza coverage over the years, and yet to date California Pizza Kitchen has escaped close scrutiny. From what I can tell, fans of CPK frozen pies are really into the Thai Chicken and BBQ Chicken varieties. Which might explain why those were missing from the freezer section. But the Margherita, in my mind, is a tell-all. So what did CPK's tell?
First off, their's isn't a traditional Margherita. They use the loosy goosey interpretation of a pizza with cheese, tomatoes, and basil. The tomatoes are diced, rather than sauced, a four cheese blend replaces straight up mozz, and the basil is obviously the kind you shake out of a bottle.
The asiago, Roman, Parmesan, mozzarella blend is the standout here. It's actually not bad. There is way more flavor complexity than you would expect from a frozen pizza, considering most have cheese that has more in common with wet cardboard than dairy. It's salty, a little nutty even, though the texture is more squeaky/chewy than is becoming of melted cheese.
Diced tomatoes do not freeze beautifully. They hold their shape well enough, but a thawed out frozen tomato is as mushy and watery as you imagine it would be. But the "crispy thin crust" can handle it. From the middle to about an inch ahead of the edge, the crust is bready and cottony. But towards the outer edge things get interesting. The super crunchy rim is almost Cheez-It in nature—both in terms of flavor and texture. And sure that doesn't make for a desirable pizza crust, but it makes for a pretty decent snack. And really, that's the attitude you need when you unsheathe these pies and pop them in the oven. It's not good pizza, but it's not terrible.