What if frozen pizzas were more like craft beers?
In 2019, that question sparked a collaboration between two St. Louis culinary giants, Mama Lucia's pizza and 4 Hands Brewing Co. The two created a line of frozen pizzas inspired by St. Louis restaurants and foods — everything from a pie sporting a Lion's Choice french fry crust to an Old Vienna Red Hot Riplets pizza.
"[When] this thing started off, it was going to be kind of like craft beers, [rotating] in restaurants over time," says Scott Ashby, president of Mama Lucia's.
But with the pandemic, things came to a standstill. But no more.
This week, Mama Lucia's and 4 Hands announced three new pizzas made in collaboration with local spots are getting added to the lineup:
- A chicken tikka masala pizza from India's Rasoi, which will include a naan-like dough and tikka masala sauce, chicken, peppers, onions and mozzarella.
- A gyro pizza from Michael's Bar & Grill, which will have gyro meat, Tzatziki sauce, red onions, tomatoes and mozzarella.
- A cheeseburger-inspired pizza from Hi-Pointe Drive-In, which will include a brewery crust, cheeseburger sauce, hamburger, tomatoes, bacon, onions, cheddar and mozzarella.
Developing the pizzas for the 4 Hands line is fun, Ashby says. It lines up with the company's new motto: a distinctly different pizza manufacturer.
"We can get pretty creative, and we're making stuff that you can't find in the market anywhere else," he says.
Getting these new pizzas from the drawing board into stores wasn't a hugely long process. Mama Lucia's had some back and forth with the restaurants in an attempt to get the pizzas as true as possible to what they are doing. But, he points out, none sell pizza. So this is a matter of interpretation. He points to the naan crust on the tikka masala pizza, which has the same ingredients as the naan you'd get in a restaurant. It's not exactly like a restaurant naan, though.
"It's a little different than a regular crust," Ashby says. "It's got a nice taste to it."
For those who don't think pizza can be anything but traditional crust, red sauce and cheese, Ashby notes that these are definitely pizzas — even if they are unique.
"If they liked these restaurants, I'm pretty sure they're going to like these pizzas," he says. "They're definitely a little different. But for the adventuresome, I think they'll find that they're really good."
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