Diving Into Del Popolo’s Frozen Pizzas

Potato, rosemary, and mozzarella pizza baked from frozen -- from Del Popolo.
Potato, rosemary, and mozzarella pizza baked from frozen — from Del Popolo.

You know you’ve made it when you not only graduate from a insanely popular food truck to a wildly successful brick-and-mortar pizzeria but finally to primo frozen pizzas stocked at discerning local grocery stores.

That’s the story of San Francisco’s Del Popolo, started by owner Jon Darsky who started hauling a 5,000-pound pizza oven around in a deconstructed shipping container in 2012 before opening his Del Popolo pizzeria in 2015.

The frozen pizzas.
The frozen pizzas.

During the pandemic, it started offering frozen pizzas, which can now be found at the restaurant, as well as in the freezer cases at Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery, Berkeley Bowl, Piazza’s Fine Foods, Draeger’s, Epicurean Trader, and Whole Foods.

I actually got mine delivered through GoodEggs.

Two different 10-inch pies are available ($16.99 each): Wood-Fired Margherita and Wood-Fired Potato Pizza, both made with organic whole wheat flour.

Heating directions are included on the back of the package. Because these pies are already baked, then blast-frozen, they don’t take long in your oven — just 7 minutes if frozen, and 5 minutes if thawed. The instructions carefully state that these pies should bake up tender and crisp, not super crunchy, so take care to monitor the time so you don’t end up over-baking them.

If you follow those directions, you will end up with a pizza that is crisp at the very center yet pillowy and airier the farther out you get to the edges. Very few — if any — frozen pizzas boast that kind of suppleness, making these very memorable.

Del Popolo's frozen Margherita straight out of my oven.
Del Popolo’s frozen Margherita straight out of my oven.

The Margherita has but a veil of tomato sauce, along with oregano, puddles of fresh mozzarella, a shower of Grana Padano for extra nuttiness and saltiness, and basil leaves. It’s a purist’s pizza with the delicious sweetness from the tomatoes playing off the slightly tangy, long-fermented taste of the crust. The mozzarella gets melty but stays relatively intact, not necessarily becoming super stretchy. That’s probably owing to the fact that it had been previously melted, then frozen, but that’s a minor quibble. The marvelous milky taste is still evident.

The Potato pizza is a true find. I know some folks shake their heads at starch on top of starch. But the thin slices of creamy Yukon Gold potatoes add a wonderful natural earthiness that makes a natural partner for the foresty rosemary needles strewn overtop. Fresh mozzarella and slivers of red onion complete this fabulous pie.

The Margherita has 690 calories for the whole pie; the Potato one has 890 calories.

Sock a few away in your freezer for a rainy day — which, given the deluge of late, is pretty much any day right now.

More: A Visit to Del Popolo in San Francisco

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