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We've reviewed plenty of pocket sandwiches that have ranged from satisfying (Kashi's Turkey Fiesta) to downright awful (Lean Pocket's Three Cheese Chicken Quesadilla). Generally speaking they're on the down side of acceptable, so after testing ten or so I figured we'd done about all of the "We eat it, so you don't have to," that I could stand in the name of science.
This week, however, I spotted a new product from one of the frozen food companies that consistently gets good marks: Michael Angelo's. They call these new products "Pocket Calzones," and although they're a bit high in sodium for their size, I decided to give them a shot. Maybe Michael Angelo's could succeed where other companies had failed.
The first one we tried, the Spinach & Vegetable, had the best numbers: 220 calories, 480 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of fiber. The package gives directions for cooking these in the oven, but in the interest of realism (who has access to a real oven at work?) we used the microwave directions. As noted on the box, microwaving them produces a soft, chewy crust. No surprise there and not too different from all the other pocket sandwiches we've tried. The surprise in these are the fillings. The Spinach & Vegetable filling actually spills out of the calzone when you cut into it: there's an appreciable amount of filling and the vegetables are easily recognized (and tasted). There are chunks of zucchini, cooked spinach, yellow and red peppers, tomatos and cheese. The flavor's even better, tasting like a really good spinach pizza. This filling hasn't been processed into an unrecognizable paste.
The second one we tried was the Turkey & Cheddar. I was prepared for this one to be as bad as the Turkey, Broccoli & Cheese Lean Pockets but I was again pleasantly surprised: generous amounts of filling with rich turkey and cheddar flavor. This one contains quite a bit more sodium than the Spinach & Vegetable at 640 milligrams of sodium and 250 calories, and you can taste it. It's not unpleasant, however, and is likely to be a result of the amount of cheddar cheese, which can be saltier than other cheeses. If you've been putting up with the Lean Pockets product, do your taste buds a favor and switch to the Michael Angelo's product.
Finally we tried the Pepperoni & Cheese Pizza variety. This one has the highest number of calories (260) and the most salt (650 mg). The pizza sauce inside is a little spicy and the sandwich almost tastes of Italian sausage, even though there's no sausage in it. The pepperoni tastes like the pepperoni you get at a good pizza parlor and there's plenty of mozzarella cheese. I'd rather have this than many of the frozen pizzas we've reviewed! (Oddly enough, Michael Angelo's doesn't make frozen pizzas. Perhaps they've tried and the results aren't up to their standards?)
The big drawback of these Pocket Calzones is the amount of salt they contain. They come individually wrapped, two to a package, so at about 250 calories apiece you might think to have two for a quick dinner. But with 1000 or more milligrams of sodium and 500 calories for the two I'd have to recommend against it. Save these for lunch.
Reviewed: April 23, 2010