I’ve always been a fan of Pizza Express. Their food, the world over, is exceptionally good and pretty much consistent through different regions. It’s a great change from the usual, especially in places where good options are scarce or if you are unsure about the other places and don’t want to be adventurous with your food. So, ever since they opened an outlet in Gurgaon, I had been patiently waiting to give the place a try.
Situated on the “food floor” of Ambience Mall, Pizza Express already has a lot of competition, especially since it is right next to Fresc Co., one of my all-time favourite places to eat. Nevertheless, since it occupies a massive area, the seating is spacious and comfortable. The light-coloured interiors with a splash of colour via the red light-fittings, makes the place look clean and vibrant. The staff is friendly and follow the “service with a smile” routine quite well, not to forget that the food didn’t take long to arrive even though the place was fairly busy.
One of the best things about Pizza Express is that their menu remains pretty much the same no matter the country you eat in, obviously with the exception of local meat preferences and allowances. They stick to what they know best and in the process present a certain uniqueness that many restaurants tend to lose in trying to localise their food.
The Berry Fresca and the Sunrise Iced Tea, both new additions on the menu, were refreshing and a welcome change to the similar type of drinks we get at other places. While the Raspberry juice dominated the Fresca, the Sunrise Iced Tea was heavy on the pineapple, but both drinks are on the lighter side and compliment the food well.
As appetiser, the Bruschetta Con Funghi was unfortunately a disappointment. While the Pizza Express dough base was wonderful as always; cooked perfectly with the right amount of crunch, the toppings were all thrown in together and were a mismatch with no particular flavour at all. The red onions stuck out like a sour thumb and maybe caramelising them would have worked better. Similarly, while there was a distinct mushroom flavour (obviously, as otherwise they would have to rename the dish), it never really worked its magic, not to mention the balsamic syrup on top just made the bruschetta taste even weirder.
Coming to the main reason for visiting Pizza Express and sticking with the thin crusted Romana Pizza which is supposedly more “Italian” in form, I decided to be adventurous and order something that I couldn’t even pronounce. Fine, the ingredients were listed so it wasn’t exactly a blind pick, but the Cipolla Caramellota con Noci was a pleasant surprise. The walnuts, artichoke, and the caramelised red onions were all delightful and not only worked brilliantly with the remainder of the toppings (Mozzarella, Yellow and red peppers, and olives), but also gave a very unique sweet and sour flavour to the pizza. Now, normally I’m against anything sweet on my pizza, but in this case the sweetness is extremely subtle, almost playing hide and seek with the taste buds. Add a little oregano and black pepper and you can further reduce that sweetness if you like, although personally there is no need for that. The CCcN (easier to say this than the entire name) is highly recommended if you’ve gotten bored of eating paneer or corn and the likes on your pizzas. Moreover, the base was crisp and the pizza did arrive looking quite colourful with its green, brown, black, red, orange, and white ingredients.
Lastly, the dessert was another little surprise package. Again, I’m not big on Cheesecake, but the slice served along with a scoop of gelato vanilla was thick, creamy, and tasty, so much so that I’ll have to give the whole idea of “I don’t like cheesecake” a rethink.
Pizza Express continues (and I’m taking into account the other outlets I’ve eaten at before today) to be amongst my favourite places to eat. However, I must add that although their quantity was sufficient in comparison to other places, I did feel that I could have had a little more; maybe an appetiser or something small to feel satisfied. Keeping this in mind I also felt that the damage to the pocket, that of Rs. 1900, without alcohol or any non-vegetarian food, was a tad too much. I am aware that taxes have gone up, but were I to eat to my heart’s content, the bill would have hiked up to around 2500, and for two people it seems to be on the higher side.
Still, I would recommend Pizza Express as a much needed change, especially for serial pizza eaters like myself.