I haven’t been in a Pizza Express
restaurant for ages, years in fact, and it’s probably no surprise that their menus have had a radical makeover. Not that there was anything that needed changing in the first place. It was always the one-stop-shop for decent pizzas but with more competition on the high street they had to step it up.
And, it’s not just the menu that’s had a makeover, their Langham Place restaurant has been given a facelift too. The restaurant is large but has been designed to cater for both big and small groups. The smaller banquettes and tables give the large space a certain intimacy so you don’t feel lost in the vastness.
An outside eating area/smoking section is directly on the street, close to the main road.
There are ten new dishes on all Pizza Express menus which include four gluten-free options and a cheese-free pizza, suitable for vegans. The Emilia Romana has Chestnut and closed cup mushrooms on a base of goat’s cheese, garlic oil and mozzarella, finished with rocket, Gran Moravia cheese, fresh lemon juice and black truffle oil.
For those watching their figure the ‘Leggera’ range includes salmon salad (£11.95) weighs in at a reasonable 400 calories, it’s also gluten-free. A big serving of chargrilled peppers, onions, cucumber, avocado, mint, rocket and seasonal leaves are accompanied by Oak-roasted peppered salmon fillet chunks, finished off with parsley and lemon juice.
The classic Tuscan Panzanella salad (£5.50) is under 250 calories and you’ll get a large bowl filled with tomato, cucumber, red onion, surfine capers and croutons marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. If you don;t fancy more salad, there’s pizza the new Leggera Sloppy Giuseppe is a ring of thin crispy Romana dough topped with hot spiced beef, green pepper, red onion, light mozarella and tomato. The middle is filled with salad and drizzled with Pizza Express light house dressing. All for under an impressive 500 calories.
There are even desserts with the calorie counters in mind two scoops of lemon curd or dairy-free raspberry sorbet, served with a chocolate straw and fresh mint are also on offer. A three course Italian meal for under 1,000 calories is pretty hard to find and doesn’t bust the diet.
Their pizzas are served with a wheel cutter – great idea – and you have the choice of their classic pizzas, now joined on the menu by steam-rollered thin pizzas, known as Romana.
The Leggera pizza is a classic sized ring of the thinner, crispier Romana dough; the hole in the centre is filled with fresh salad and drizzled with light house dressing. All pizzas in this range are under 500 calories.
For the non-cheese lovers, and surprisingly there are a few of you out there, there’s a new classic Pianta (£8.95) pizza which takes a spicy arrabiata base and tops it off with spinach, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels and artichoke, finishing it off with a flourish rocket and extra virgin olive oil.
A must for heat-lovers is the new Pollo Forza (£12.15) a fiery pizza topped with chicken marinated in smokey chilli powder, garlic and chilli flakes, chargrilled red and yellow peppers, roquito peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with Gran Moravia cheese, parsley and chilli oil.
For those on a gluten-free diet it’s not just a gluten-free pizza on offer, there’s risotto, a great brownie dessert and an award-winning Pilsner beer which makes a massive change to safe salad.
I took my colleague Lucy for lunch to discover their new Spring menu and we ate a two course meal all within an hour, no rushing, no fuss. The restaurant was pretty busy too.
We shared a new dish the risotto fresco (£5.75) which was the perfect size to share. Creamy risotto was studded with large pieces of peppered smoked salmon fillet and finished off with rocket.
We both chose the same, Fiorentina pizza, soft egg, but the Romana (£11.00) – inspired by pizza in Rome. If you want a classic pizza transformed into a Romana you’ll need to add an additional £1.50 to the bill. The first thing that was apparent when I took a bite of the pizza was that the taste is still the same, a rich tomato base, cheese-topped with a generous helping of spinach.
A new side includes red & white cabbage coleslaw (£3.25) with carrot, onion and parsley in a creamy horseradish mayonnaise with lemon juice and black pepper and Rucola (£3.65) delicious rocket salad topped with shaved Gran Moravia cheese with black truffle oil and black pepper.
We eyed-up the newly added summer pudding, vanilla bean panna cotta and a waist-watching sorbet but we were stuffed.
I was a guest of Pizza Express.