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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Michelina's Gets it (Almost) Right

Hope springs eternal here at Dr. Gourmet. Given Michelina's uniformly poor track record with the meals we've tried, only hope springing eternal (or is that merely Don Quixote riding merrily through the frozen foods aisle?) would bring more Michelina's meals to the tasting table.

You know as well as I do that frozen pizza doesn't have much going for it. Too often you end up with pizza crust that's too doughy or the toppings are flavorless (or both). I've made Pepperoni Pizza on pita bread and had that turn out better than many frozen pizzas (and here's the Pepperoni Pizza Pantry Meal recipe to prove it). This week, however, I had quite the surprise.

Pepperoni PizzaThe crust on Michelina's Lean Gourmet Pepperoni Pizza looks a bit questionable coming out of the box. It's a rectangular pizza and the crust looks like a thick Saltine cracker. You put the pizza on the metallic crisper on the inside of the lid and microwave it - and it smells like pretty good pizza!

It tastes pretty good, too: the pizza sauce is tomatoey but not sweet and has a good basil and oregano flavor. The pepperoni looks and tastes like the kind you'd get in a real pizzeria. And the crust is about as good as using a white (as opposed to whole wheat) pita. The underside is not crispy, but the rectangle stands up to the sauce well and doesn't get soggy. Unfortunately, the cheese is nearly non-existent and the overall flavor suffers from the amount of sodium in this dish: 970 milligrams. For that alone I have to give it a thumbs' down, but I really think you should skip it because you can so easily make a much better pizza on a whole wheat pita.

Chicken AlfredoMichelina's Lean Gourmet Chicken Alfredo Florentine fares about as well as their Pepperoni Pizza: almost, but not quite. The pasta's texture is better than you'd expect from frozen pasta, but the alfredo sauce is blander than it should be. Not cheesy, just gooey.

That said, the chicken chunks in this dish aren't overcooked (even in my extra-powerful microwave) and actually have really good grilled chicken flavor! Not bad for a meal that costs about $1.50. The chicken flavor alone almost gave it the green light, but "not bad" is not the same as "good."

All in all, this is very encouraging. We'll keep testing Michelina's Lean Gourmet meals from time to time. After all, hope springs eternal.

Reviewed: May 15, 2009