We visit Pizza Express probably around once every month. We often take advantage of the deals they offer and even save up our club card points for money to spend in the restaurant.
We are generally very big fans. They do an excellently good value children’s meal which both of mine really enjoy and the food is always very good. Most of the time the service is excellent too and we have high praise after almost all of our visits. There have been one or two trips where the service has been less than good but the food is always excellent and like I said, it’s very infrequent. That’s why we keep going back!
Invited to try the new summer menu at Florence’s favourite restaurant in the whole world as she will tell you and we were very pleased indeed. We have become probably a little boring in our choices and order the same things over and over so it was the perfect chance to try something new and see what else they do aside from our favourites!
We started with drinks and olives; I opted for the Pinot Grigio Blush, slightly sweet and an easy drinker while Jonny opted for the Trebbiano. Large glasses of wine are rather pricey but a friend taught me a good trick, if you ask for one in a carafe it makes the drink last longer for some reason! The olives were delicious, we chose Olives Marinate from the new menu with pink peppercorns. In all honesty Florence and Jimmy ate most of them but the ones we got to try were deliciously juicy and fat. A glorious tatste of the Med I always think and good ones, like these, are enough to almost transport you into a sun filled street in Italy rather than South Woodford which is where we actually were!
We followed this with our actual starters we were eager to try from the new menu both Risotto Fresco (oak smoked salmon fillet with garlic and parsley in a creamy risotto) and also the Leggera Panzanella Salad (tuscan inspired salad under 250 calories). Of course I couldn’t go to Pizza Express without ordering Dough Balls and garlic butter and knowing the children had mini portions of these in their Piccolo Menu and that I would have to steal them otherwise we had a dish for the table!
The Dough Balls as ever went down a treat and the children wolfed theirs down too. Florence ordered extra cucumber and was thrilled to have a giant bowl in the middle of her plate. The salad was lovely and fresh, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar are a perfect combination but the clear winner was the risottos which can also be ordered as a main course! It was beautifully cooked with soft salmon and crispy skin. I could have eaten about three bowls!
The Piccolo menu is perfect and even though my two could share and we end up taking a doggy bag home we order them one each as they enjoy it so. I love how Pizza Express have stepped up in the last year or so when it comes to children and now not only do they get obligatory crayons but also a chefs hat and ever better, a pack of stickers! Great for keeping them occupied while waiting for food or when finished before parents!
The main event for us this visit was a large salmon salad from the new menu (Leggera Salmon Salad – under 450 calories) and we couldn’t resist sharing a Romana Pizza but had to opt for an old favourite in the Da Morire! Gorgonzola D.O.P, crispy pancetta, leeks artichoke, mozzarella, tomato, rosemary and chilli oil – perfection! We did try the new Emilia on a previous visit which I have to say wasn’t entirely to our liking. There wasn’t much topping leaving the bread quite dry and then an awful lot of rocket piled on top so that really it felt a bit like a salad. I’m quite sure it was just a mishap that particular day in that particular restaurant (Grenwich) but we didn’t want to risk it and the Da Morire was simply at its best! I have only liked one Pizza Express pizza better, the Monte Bianco whichhasn’t been on the menu for some time! (Told you I was a fan didn’t I)!
On the side we ordered the new Rucolo (Rocket, Gran Moravia cheese and black truffle oil) and Polenta Chips which are another favourite of ours! They are delicately covered in Gran Moravia cheese and come with a delicious honey and mustard dressing to dip! They are the most delicious thing which I actually think about often and wish I was eating although for some reason I would never want a whole bowl to myself!
The children following their Piccolo Menu which is a brilliant price at £6.95 for a Dough Ball starter with a mini salad, pizza or pasta and then a chocolatey or ice cream pud with a Bambinoccino went for Margerhita for Florence and Bianca (Bechemal and Mushroom) pasta for Jimmy.
Our pizza, as always with this topping, was delicious and I love the thinner, bigger base of a Romana! The salad was good too although wouldn’t feel ‘I’d won’ (anyone else play that game in a restaurant) if I’d not been sharing. It’s filling and perfect for a diet but not nearly as decadent as other dishes. I think unless the calories were my driver I’d instead opt for a main course portion of the earlier Risotto. The dish of the day for me was the simple side salad, there’s something so delightful about Truffle Oil and in this very minimalistic salad it works for a fabulous tingle on the taste buds!
The Piccolo food is always every bit as good quality as the adults which is a major plus for me. I can’t stand it when restaurants try to fob off the children with sub standard rubbish while the adults eat handsomely and this never happens at Pizza Express! The portions are also very large which in one respect is great if you have little eaters like mine as they could share but also and because we order ours one each for the experience, pizza and pasta is easy to take home and Pizza express are always very good about boxing up left overs. Actually for this meal our two did very well indeed and ended up sharing their plates then eating almost everything! It really was a very tasty meal!
And then for desert. I surprised myself by being most drawn to the healthy option of the Legerra lemon and Blueberry Glory which was lemon sorbet, fruit coulis and blueberries with a chocolate straw. I chose to have it with the optional limoncello shot which would have taken it over the otherwise very respectable 230 calories! Jonny had the chocolate brownie in Dolcetti form (smaller and served with coffee) and had it with a Liquor Coffee – this is his penchant at the end of any meal! The children also had chocolate brownies with the Bambinoccino. They always feel very grown up having a little cup at the end of their meal just like Daddy!
My desert was every bit as good as a sundae only it was also palate cleansing and left me without that ‘roll me home’ feeling! Let it be known I did not get to try my chocolate straw though as it was snaffled by a beady eyed Florence! The children and Jonny enjoyed the brownies and Jonny said his Liquor Coffee was actually the best Liquor Coffee he’s ever had – no jokes!
It was a most enjoyable meal with happy, friendly and attentive staff who brought us extra cucmber, straws and everything else we requested with no fuss and very quickly. The restaurant in South Woodford is a good one with children as it’s very spacious and I love the big windows for people watching. I do love how each restaurant is a little bit different and quirky in its own way in aethetics.
Pizza Express on the face of it is quite pricey (aside from the children’s menu) but we rarely visit without an offer or discount as there always seems to be one on and we very often exchange our Club card tokens for Pizza Express vouchers too.
I think the new menu is very tasty and with excellent options for healthier more thoughtful eating! I won’t every stray too far from the Dough Balls with lashings of garlic butter and the pizzas I just can’t resist but it’s good to know on diet days I can still go and have a great meal, starter, main and desert for under a thousand calories! The summer menu is light refreshing and we have definitely found some more favourites to add to our regular orders list – that Risotto and the truffle salad, oh yum!
We were provided a complimentary meal in return for an honest review.