Restaurant review: Pizza ExpressBy Sarah Hamilton
March 14, 2012
Never before have I been apologised to so much about a lack of rocket.
The green stuff made up part of the topping to our pizzas when we visited Pizza Express but the chef had run out and our waitress was in quite a frenzy.
When we assured her we were just as happy to have replacement spinach leaves she said: “Thanks to God you don’t mind.”
But we would have asked for three Hail Marys if there wasn’t enough mozzarella. At least they care.
The chain has introduced a new range of Leggeras – the ones designed to be less calorific at around 500 calories – and Romanas, so we decided to try them out.
We started by nibbling a bowl of marinated olives (£2.30) while enjoying our starters. We went for Bruschetta Originale ‘Pizza Express’ (£4.60) which were made up of juicy, chopped tomatoes piled on toast with pesto and red onions, and Bruschetta Roquito (£4.60) which had fontal, roquito peppers and ricotta. The peppers were spicy and gave my bruschetta, a more softer dough toast, some kick.
Also on offer were meat or vegetable antipastos to share, good old garlic bread or meatballs with pagnotta bread – one of the new starters on the menu.
On to the main event and the restaurant has thin and crispy Romana pizzas, even thinner and crispier Leggera pizzas, the firey Francesco Mazzei calabrese with lots of sausage and peppers and various salads including the new goat’s cheese and warm vegetable, and chicken and pancetta.
There is also a range of pasta dishes including cannelloni, lasagne and the wonderful-sounding melanzane parmigiana – which is aubergine-based and in fact includes no pasta.
I went for the pollo ad astra leggera pizza (£9.80) which was a spicy blend of chicken, light mozzarella, peppadew peppers, cajun spices, garlic oil and red onions - and of course the non-rocket sprinkling of spinach leaves.
My guest had the calabrese (£11.95) which was a pizza packed with Calabrese sausage, nduja sausage, green chillies, roquito peppers, pesto, mozzarella and grana padano – not for the faint-hearted palate and one my husband enjoyed very much.
Other eye-catching pizzas options were the Da Morire (gorgonzola, caramelised leeks, artichoke and pancetta), Etna (nduja sausage, roquito peppers and speck ham) and the Veneziana (red onions, sultanas, pine kernels and olives). And if you choose the American Hot then 25p will be donated to Cancer Research UK and children’s rehabilitation projects via Lawrence Dallaglio’s fundraiser, the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012.
Having been fairly virtuous with our main courses we felt we deserved a pudding. My husband went for the tiramisu (£4.95), a generous portion of coffee, cocoa, cream, mascarpone, marsala wine and sponge fingers – superb – while I went for the more modest semi freddo reale (£3.95) which is one of several mini pud options which come with a coffee.
The semi freddo was a gelato dessert of nougat, praline and marsala wine. Other dolcetti included lemon meringue tart, syrup figs, and chocolate truffle ice cream. Hungrier bellies might like cheesecake and banoffee pie on the main desert menu.
Pizza Express also has a succinct but pleasant range of wines to choose from, including ‘leggera’ options of less than 100 calories per small glass.
- Telephone: 0118 939 1920/957 4411
- Website: www.pizzaexpress.com
- Address: Pizza Express
St Mary’s Butts or The Oracle