PizzaExpress heads towards its 50th birthday
The first germ of an idea to bring authentic Italian Pizza to the UK was originally inspired when Peter Boizot as a young lad, tasted his first pizza in Florence in 1948. Fast forward to 1965, when an oven was brought from Rome to set up the first Pizza Express in Wardour Street, Soho, followed by a second branch in Bloomsbury.
The appetite for quality, freshly baked pizza continues to grow with over 16 million happy eaters visiting the company’s 400 restaurants in the UK and Ireland each year.
In a prime site for tourists, (Westminster Abbey), Art lovers (Tate Gallery), and for leisure and business visitors, (beside the Doubletree by Hilton hotel), Pizza Express Millbank is a ground floor restaurant, bright, light, contemporary space with high glass walls of windows all around overlooking the Thames.
PizzaExpress has always known its broad clientele of all ages, welcoming couples, party groups and families with kids. Yes, this is fast food but the Italian classic can be very healthy too. The menu has changed over recent years with a wide choice of low calorie chicken salads, vegetarian and gluten free dishes and also cheeseless, tomato base pizza. And the chefs seem to have fun inventing enticing new Pizza toppings crammed with seasonal vegetables to ensure we stick to a five a day diet.
So what to choose from the extensive selection of pasta, risotto and of course those famous Pizzas? My partner Ken and I had travelled by East Coast train from Edinburgh to London that afternoon, checking into the Grosvenor hotel, Victoria Station. The next day we were setting off on a luxury journey on the Orient Express to Venice. So PizzaExpress was an apt start to our Italian adventure.
We began with a glass of Prosecco (fizz for under a Fiver), and shared a bowl of giant Sicilian green olives. We bypassed the tempting bruschetta and garlic bread. Ken then chose the new Emilia Romano Pizza – Chestnut mushrooms, goat’s cheese, garlic oil and mozzarella sprinkled with rocket, grated Gran Moravia cheese, fresh lemon juice and black truffle oil.
The verdict – a wonderful combination of earthy flavours and the lingering, rich taste and scent of truffle creating a truly gourmet meal.
Another huge vegetarian pizza for me: The Giardiniera covered in juicy artichokes, mushrooms, red peppers, marinated santos tomatoes, leeks, olives, garlic oil, tomato and pesto. As colourful as the Italian flag with the taste of the Mediterranean sun. We sipped a soft fruity Sicilian Syrah – raising our glasses to toast our exciting train trip.
We declined dessert, but you can indulge in Gelato, Chocolate torte and other sweet things.
Open Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 10.30pm, Sunday 11.30am – 5pm, PizzaExpress Millbank is the place for an Express or leisurely lunch, pre-theatre supper or a relaxing dinner as we experienced. The prices for a substantial meal offer good value. The restaurant is available for venue hire, there’s outside dining and a take-away service. You can even order your Takeaway meal on line for convenience.
It’s time to celebrate the company’s forthcoming 50th birthday with a feast of delicious Italian cuisine. And you don’t have to fly to Naples or Rome or Florence to experience it.
“We love this branch of Pizza Express because it’s in an excellent location, has wonderful staff and the food is of great quality. Beautiful, unique building which is very light – lovely to watch the world go by. Although Pizza Express is a chain each branch has its own special charm and I highly recommend Millbank” Diner Review.
PizzaExpress Millbank – 25 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP
t. 020 7976 6214