Kicking Back with Jersey Joe: Turn Your Kitchen into an Uno Chicago Grill Feb18

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Kicking Back with Jersey Joe: Turn Your Kitchen into an Uno Chicago Grill

Who wants pizza?  Most of us probably do at one point or another.  Recently, I was browsing the frozen foods aisle at my local Shop-Rite supermarket and noticed a wide variety of Uno Chicago Pizzas to cook at home.  Uno Pizza whenever I want?  Sounds like a plan to me!

The choices in the frozen pizza section can be a bit overwhelming at times.  Lots of different companies offer the same old flavors… cheese, pepperoni, supreme… but Uno has a few other flavors going that no one else has.  Thanks to their great marketing, I chose the Tuscan Chicken thin crust pizza and to the checkout I went.

Now, I have a Uno Chicago Grill located about a block from my apartment.  Living in North Jersey, pizza restaurants are plentiful.  Sure, I will probably get a better pizza if I call one up and have it delivered. But, with this frozen version I can throw it in the freezer and heat it up whenever I want.

Uno Chicago Grill is known for the high quality food that they serve at their chain restaurants across the US.  The company was formerly known as Pizzeria Uno until the current name change in 1997.  The first restaurant was opened in 1943 by a former University of Texas football star, Ike Sewell, and his business partner a WWII solder, Rick Richardo in Chicago.

Sewell’s original idea was to open a Mexican restaurant, but he went with a pizzeria, instead.

Pizzeria Uno, as it was originally called, is said to be the creator of the deep dish pizza.  But, a 1950’s article in the Chicago News states the recipe was created by someone else.

The company was an immediate success and the pair quickly launched a second restaurant, Pizzeria Duo, one block north of the original’s location, and Swell finally got his Mexican restaurant when they opened Su Casa next door.

In 1978, Swell began franchising his company and as of 2005, Uno had 216 restaurants in 32 states.  128 are owned by the company outright, while the others are independently owned and operated.  There are also express locations in airports, stadiums, and service plazas.  I have eaten a few times at the Blue Mountain Service Plaza location on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In the late 90s the company expanded their adult beverage menu served in the restaurants.  They changed to larger size drinks, since customers have the tendency to only purchase one or two alcoholic beverages per meal and it resulted in increasing profits and demand.

The menu was again overhauled in 2005, adding a deep dish pizza and more frozen drinks, along with serving wine in most restaurants.

In 1997, the company faced trouble with the federal government.  The Federal Trade Commission alleged “unfair or deceptive acts and practices and making false statements.”  This was in reaction to a new menu item, Thinzettas, which were a thin crust style pizza that the company claimed were low in fat.  The government found that six of the nine varieties offered, were in fact, not low in fat.  According to online reports, the company changed their advertising and is being forced to present evidence of their truthful advertising on a regular basis at the feds request until 2017.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010 and closed 16 restaurants due to the downturn in our economy.

However, in a bid to make more money, they are now offering a line of frozen pizzas at your local grocery store.  Many other restaurant companies have already towards this trend such as Burger King and PF Chang’s.

I got the pizza home and I found the preparation quite easy.  Simply, remove it from the plastic wrap and cardboard, then place it in the center rack of a preheated 450? oven. It bakes in 10 minutes.  The cooking time was spot on, but then, the disappointment set in…

I had purchased a Tuscan Chicken pizza… but where was the chicken?  There were 5 chunks of meat and maybe 1 or 2 more bits of chicken here and there.  Some pieces had none at all.  There was a so-so amount of mozzarella, spinach, and tomatoes, but if I was served this in their restaurant, I would be really upset.  They ‘re definitely skimping on the toppings.

Also, the box states the serving size is for three people.  If you serve this at a dinner for three, somebody’s going to end up hungry.  This pizza serves two at the most. The size is more like a pizza shop medium.

I sliced it up and took a taste.  The flavor was OK, but not as fresh as you would get at the actual restaurant.  The mozzarella and spinach work well with the chicken where there actually was some.

Just for fun, I added some Frank’s Red Hot sauce to a piece and that really made the flavor pop.  I also tried some Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce on another slice and that too was great.  They should give those flavors a try in the future.

As for the fat facts, three slices will run you 330 calories and 18g of fat.  Not the worst out there, but you don’t get that much food for those calories.  It’s not the healthiest pizza on the market, but by far not the worst, either.  The box does advertise the pizza is made from all natural ingredients. We’ll see what the feds have to say about that in a few years.

THE 411


Cost: $5.49 (and on the day I purchased mine, Shop-Rite was taking another 50¢ off.)

Where: sold in the freezer aisle in your local grocery store

Servings: the box claims 3, but it’s more like 2 servings

Nutrition Facts: 330 calories and 18g of fat for 3 slices

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Skip this one.  It might work as a side snack, but not as a meal or main course.  Yes, the cost is cheap, but so is what you get.  The amount of chicken that was on the pizza was pathetic.  The amount of other toppings was minimal.  It looks like this pizza went through some serious corporate downsizing.  Uno should be embarrassed to have their name on this product and serve it in stores.  If you really want a slice, try it in their restaurant where hopefully it will be much better.