Last Updated on December 3, 2016
In the Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, a number of unique Italian-style dishes carry out a niche existence in local lore. One of those is the “St. Louis style” pizza, a thin-crust pizza topped with a strange provolone-cheddar-Swiss concoction known as provel cheese. Yet another is a famous salad that includes romaine lettuce, onions, artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, and a dressing made from vinegar and oil.
Also in the mix is toasted ravioli, a type of ravioli that has a crispy outer crust. Inside is a filling, typically cheese or beef. The ravioli are typically served with marinara sauce and / or grated Parmesan. Toasted ravioli are popular as appetizers, although St. Louisans will sometimes also serve them up as a main dish.
Aldi — whose U.S. subsidiary is headquartered some five hours from St. Louis, in suburban Chicago — has a limited line of toasted ravioli products. As best as we can tell, whether these are Regular Buys or occasional Special Buys depends on what part of the country you live in.
We sampled them to see how close they came to local St. Louis fare.
Mama Cozzi’s Breaded Toasted Ravioli, Original Beef
The beef version of Aldi toasted ravioli comes in a one-pound frozen box. According to the box, that translates to roughly 24 pieces. The instructions are exclusively oven: there is nothing on the box for any other method. The ravioli cook for 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees, but the box warns against both undercooking (make sure they reach 160 degrees) and overcooking (make sure the ravioli don’t puff or pillow out). In our experience, if you follow the cook time and keep an eye on them, you’ll be fine.
Out of the oven, we found them to be crisp and very tasty, with a flaky crust and a robust flavor, both with the crust and the seasoned beef inside. The truly discerning taste-tester might be able to discriminate these from the restaurant variety, but we can’t.
Mama Cozzi’s Breaded Toasted Ravioli, Four Cheese
For the vegetarian (or just the cheese lover), there is a variation on the Mama Cozzi line that replaces beef with a quartet of ricotta, mozzarella, imported Romano, and Asiago cheeses. Like the beef ravioli, it is a one-pound box of about 24 pieces. Also like the beef ravioli, these heat up at 425 degrees, although, strangely, the instructions only say 8 minutes rather than the 8-10 of the beef ravioli.
These are, like the beef, good. Really good. We think we might even like them more than the beef ones, even though the beef ones are also really good.
Priano Marinara Sauce
Toasted ravioli are made to be dipped in marinara, and Aldi offers such an option in the form of the Priano Marinara Sauce. Unlike the ravioli, these containers are found in the refrigerator section.
Also unlike the ravioli, they contain absolutely no heating instructions whatsoever. We opted for the simplest method, which was microwaving, although that does come with the same drawback most tomato-based products do in the microwave: possible splatter. There may be other methods to heat it, such as placing the entire plastic container in a bowl of hot water, but we recommend the microwave.
This marinara makes the perfect dipping sauce, especially paired with another Priano labeled product, Priano Shredded Parmesan.
If you’re looking for a St. Louis-style appetizer (or maybe more), the Mama Cozzi’s Toasted Ravioli line has you covered. Paired with Priano Marinara Sauce and Priano Shredded Parmesan, this is about as good as you could hope to get short of going to the Hill. Recommended.