Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza

Ciao, Trader Giotto, it's been a while!

Seriously, it has been. Last time we saw Giotto was nearly nine long months ago. Is it just me, or do the different foreign Trader Joe names seem to falling out of use a little bit more? We rarely see Trader Jose, Trader Ming, Baker Josef or any of them. Anyone remember Thai Joe? We do... barely.

There's also an ampersand. Those also seem to be falling a little bit more to the wayside in favor of "and." Give me silly, stupid character names and rarely used punctuation along with your Hawaiian shirts...oh wait, crap, I can't remember the last time I saw a crew member wear one! What's going on!?!?!

Anyways, here's a throwback name for a decent little pizza: Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza. You can tack on the "With Parmigiana Reggiano Cheese" portion of the title (or not) at your own discretion. While it's certainly better, this particular pizza won't get me rapping like the last Giotto pie we reviewed. But it'll probably get our repeat business.

There's a lot to like here. Let's start with the crust and go up. Ohhhh...the crust. Crispy, crunchy, cracker-y, light and airy but a firm foundation. I can't recall ever having a crust so crunchy without charring the bottom to a blackened stump. While the crust could use a little more dough and girth, it was still solidly tasty if not a little basic otherwise. As you probably could guess, instead of a red or white sauce base, it's a sweet potato puree for the saucy layer, topped by ample chopped kale and chunky butternut squash. All that seems to work together alright - the squash does seem a little sweet, without a counterbalance, though.

As for the cheese, there's a plus and a minus. The plus - I've had Parmigiano-Reggiano straight from the source on several occasions (courtesy of my wife's coworkers, who have gone to Reggio, Italy on business trips several times). It's been a while, so a direct comparison would be tough to pull off , but neither Sandy nor I would ever confuse it with the stuff from a green shaker. It's definitely not "Parmesan." That's good, but there's not quite enough. There were three or four flakes and shreds, but that was really about it. A little more, please.

Overall, though, it's a good, light pizza. I do mean light. Sandy and I made it for dinner, along side some roasted broccoli, and even though we're both increasingly cognizant of portioning, it just wasn't quite enough. If we were characters on Oregon Trail, this would classified as a "meager" meal - certainly not "bare bones" but far from "filling", and now I'm paranoid one of us will get typhoid and the oxen will run away. Great. At least we had some ice cream sandwiches deep in the depths of the freezer to combat all of those healthy things we just ate.

For $3.99 (I think), it's tough to argue with, but that doesn't mean complete satisfaction. Sandy likes it a little more than me, to the tune of a four. Loves that crust. To me, it lacks just enough in a few key departments that I can't go much higher than a three.   

Bottom line: Trader Giotto's Kale, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Pizza: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Its average..... at least TJ's is trying...I did buy the shitake mushroom, onion, mozzarella and red pepper one... that's a bit different... mild.. needs some chili flakes on it.

  2. You should try the pesto pizza! It's delicious!

  3. Insider info for you from a long time TJs employee - we still wear Hawaiian shirts, but they are actually only for managers!

  4. I'm not a meat or cheese fan, and I love butternut squash, sweet potato, and kale. Combine all that with the amazing crust of this product, and it's my favorite TJs pizza ever. It's plenty for just one person, and I usually have a slice of two left over to eat cold for breakfast the next morning.

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  6. Add cayenne, a pinch of sea salt, and some cracked pepper... It's pretty tasty for under $5.

  7. Tried it in the store... Tasted ok, and I liked the idea. But instead of buying the frozen pizza, I bought some organic sweet potatoes, and, having the rest growing in my garden, made the pizza myself. Now I can be more generous with the cheese, and homemade crust can not be beat :)