In terms of cuisine, Italian has to be up there with the my favourites (although Japanese is at the very top). Up until six months ago, pizza, pasta and mountains of mozzarella was my idea of heaven however things changed a little when I gave up dairy and eggs for health reasons (more on that in this post). Overnight, my favourite foods were out of reach and it was a good while before I even ventured out to eat.
Italian’s seemed pretty off limits, as they appeared laden with the things I couldn’t eat – however when I visited Italy in June, I realised that I could still enjoy my favourite foods, just with a few tweaks. So, when I was invited to review Pizza Express in Welwyn Garden City (just outside of London, very close to where I live) – I was rather excited to see what concoctions I could could eat, putting my new tweaked Italian menu into practice.
As a well known chain nationwide, Pizza Express has a bit of a reputation as being the ‘top dog’ in terms of Italian food. The decor is always modern, clean and shiny (with lots of glass and pretty lights) and the menu offers something a little more than your average ‘margarita pizza’ and ‘carbonara’. They like to play around with flavour and capture the best of Italian cuisine, while also offering something a bit different. I hadn’t ventured there for a couple of years, so was excited to see what items had been re-vamped and what favourites had been kept (the Sloppy Giuseppe or the world famous Dough Balls never fail to please).
We started with some roasted tomatoes in oil (delicious) and olives, while making our final pizza choices. I spoke to our very friendly and helpful waiter regarding my dietary requirements and he very kindly checked everything thoroughly, without making me feel uncomfortable or like a complete fuss-pot. All pizzas can be made gluten-free and they contain no eggs and no milk (as long as you ask for no cheese).
I opted for the Pollo ad Astra Leggera pizza with chicken, cajun, peppers, tomatoes and garlic oil (a lighter base with a hole in the middle for salad) and a pot of polenta chips (which were incredible, even if you, like me – aren’t a huge fan of polenta itself). My grandmother chose the Niçoise seafood based pizza, which she also enjoyed.
I was too full for dessert, which was a shame because they offered some really delicious sounding dairy-free options (a rarity as in most places, I have no options at all) however my grandmother fancied the Honeycomb Cream Slice, which looked and photographed incredible. Both her and the waiter concluded it was the best dessert on the menu – emphasised by the fact that not a scrap was left behind. Mmm…
Although chain restaurants are a bit of a safe option, sometimes when you’re dairy and egg/gluten free, they are the most helpful in terms of allergy sheets and information. For an Italian, I had a wealth of choice menu-wise, with a number of fresh pastas, pizzas and salads. If you struggle eating out due to dietary requirements and often find it awkward when dining out with friends or in a social situation to be the ‘fussy one’, I guarantee you won’t have that problem here. Staff don’t make a fuss or treat you like a nuisance for asking about what each dish contains – and everything is very delicious. Sometimes when you know what you’re getting, it makes dining out stress free (and how it should be).
Have you eaten in Pizza Express recently? What do you think of the menu? Do you have intolerances/allergies and struggle when eating out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!