I don’t want to review Pizza Express. Just the thought of describing the evening, the food, and the atmosphere brings up an incredible sense of dread and dismay. All meals there, past, present and future, will be exactly the same. Day in and day out, all the same. I loathe the very concept of this when dining out but am happy to make the same meal over and over again at home. My housemate is the exact opposite. When we go out for a meal together he will invariably choose the same place we’ve been to many times before. When cooking at home though he will concoct the most varied and adventurous creations even though all I want is plain rice, perhaps sautéed in butter first and then cooked with vegetable stock. I’m not always willing to risk a disaster at home and I’ll usually prioritise comfort.
Pizza Express is a chain restaurant that provides the predictable comfort of home dining while occasionally adding a couple of new things to the menu. I was off to see a movie at the Watershed the other week and housemate and I thought dining out would be nice so ended up at Pizza Express off Millennium Square and next to Cathedral Walk.
The food was very similar to all the other times I’ve dined there. I like the four seasons pizza, I don’t mind the wine selection which includes a mix of the usual suspects such as Merlot, although I had sparkling water this time. The starter was a new addition of guacamole, mozzarella and sun-blush tomatoes called ‘Tricolore’ and the mozzarella was very creamy with a surprising hint of lemon and rosemary. The pizza was the same blend of predictable tomato sauce with four selections of toppings divided into quarters: anchovies, olives and capers; cheese; some type of salami, and mushrooms. A cheesecake dessert finished off the meal since Tiramisu was off the menu due to my Lent sacrifice. The sweet was dense and a dash bland though likeable enough.
By the end of the meal we were both waiting for the bill with our heads firmly on our hands. The food was ok with him enjoying his newly designed Francesco Mazzei pizza much more than I did mine but I still don’t see the point of it all. I’d been to Bella Italia recently and it was the same kind of mass production routine, although that time the pizza was slightly overdone as well. I don’t think it’s necessarily a money issue, Pizza Express is no cheaper than Mamma Mia on Park Row and the latter is definitely more delicious and rustic although the wine selection is a little lacking.
Mamma Mia is cosy and rustic to the extent that the wine glasses are small and shoddy, the house wine acidic to the point of grimace but the pizza and pasta are incredibly good. Going there is pleasant and the kitchen is so close to the main room downstairs that the sounds of Italian with a dash of Bristol accent can be overheard if the TV isn’t playing too loudly. I’d rather have a meal in a restaurant with a bit of life to it rather than one where the food making appears mechanised.
My most favourite restaurants are those where the menu changes weekly or daily (such as Flinty Red) but then it does become a money issue. I guess that choosing comfort has a feeling of settling about it. Ultimately it’s disappointing and I have to keep reminding myself that with a little more effort I can do better. Next time.