For my first set of reviews I’m gonna focus on the food that I often crave the most being gluten free, and that’s a lovely fresh, crisp pizza! Pizza, that lovely comfort food, the aroma of fresh yeasty bread, rich, tasty toppings, good all year round, and easy to customise to your tastes and mood.
Today, national chain Pizza Express, one of the first restaurants to introduce a gluten-free base:
Emboldened by a Spring voucher offer I ordered online and easily selected and then customised my gf base with artichoke, mushrooms and spinach.
First the website – the good news – they have a gluten free landing page with some basic information and a link to their allergy sheet. Fantastic I thought, here’s someone who takes allergy information seriously!
Now the bad news – there were 23 pages of allergy sheets and it was pretty hard to read – it was one of those landscape tables with about 30 columns on it in tiny writing, going through every item on their menu. Not very user friendly and disappointing – it would have been nice if they had produced a separate gf menu with everything on it in one place, as many restaurants have, proving their gf credentials.
So, now onto the food:
The pizza certainly looked the part, nice thin and crispy looking base with plenty of topping, and a browned edge.
How did it taste? The base itself was slightly bland but had none of that slightly metallic aftertaste you sometimes get from some gluten replacement products, though not that rich, authentic yeasty-fresh flavour you get with the regular version. You can tell this is a gf product.
The pizza is nice and thin which means you get a good crispy thin edge, but the main problem is the way the base absorbs all the liquid from the topping making it slightly heavy and soggy. Turning the pizza base over, it did remain dry, but you can see from the photos that it was pretty much soaked. I’m not sure Paul Hollywood would have been impressed.
The downside of this tendency to absorb liquid is that the topping quickly starts to part company from the base, and can slide off it leaving large patches of slightly doughy exposed base, which isn’t very tasty on its’ own. This makes it difficult to pick up and eat with your fingers, which is partly what makes the pizza taste so good!
On the other hand the base wasn’t dry, crumbly, or biscuity which is massively in its’ favour. Personally I prefer a wider, crispy edge as that makes it easier to pick up and hold whilst eating without the danger of tomato paste and the other toppings falling onto your hands or clothes. So if like me you insist on eating with your fingers you’ll need lots of napkins to clean up with.
Overall my ratings were:
Base – 3.5 out of 5 for looking the part, having a browned edge, but a soggy bottom lets it down slightly
Flavour – 4 out of 5 for avoiding that gluten replacement taste
Toppings – 4 out of 5 for generosity
Choice – 4 out of 5 for making most of the pizza menu available with a gf base
Menu / website – 3 out of 5 for not having a dedicated gf menu, making us work a bit harder to see immediately what’s available.
Overall 4 out of 5 – available nationally and a consistent standard no matter where you go, a flying start!
What’s your experiences of the Pizza Express gf pizza? Up next time, the Prezzo gf pizza!