I was so curious about PizzaExpress when I saw its board up in Uptown Bonifacio. I have never heard of the brand before but the giddiness from other foodies was so infectious that I got excited myself without knowing what to expect. And after a few months of looking forward to that first bite, I finally got to indulge in some of PizzaExpress' popular dishes.
For this visit, I sampled its Baked Dough Balls (PHP195), Mozzarella Tomato Salad (PHP275), Leggera Superfood (PHP390), Margherita Pizza (PHP350), Liguria Pizza (PHP430), Lava Pizza and Big Bad Brownie (PHP260).
While waiting for my order, I did a bit of research on PizzaExpress and found out that this brand started way back in 1965. Founded by Peter Boizot, he had a simple idea in mind and that was to bring a taste of Italy back in UK. He fell in love with the flavors Italy that he wanted to bring it back home for everyone else to enjoy. And it turned out to be a successful venture as PizzaExpress now has over 470 branches in UK alone. It also has presence across Europe, China, India, Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and now the Philippines.
First served were the starters.
The Baked Dough Balls were basically like your pizza dough rolled into these bite-sized balls served with garlic butter, pesto Genovese and pesto Rosso. All the dips were enjoyable with garlic butter as my favorite.
But skip this if you plan to eat a lot of pizzas. It is a great snack to munch on though if you are too hungry to wait for 10 to 15 minutes for your pizza.
Mozzarella Tomato Salad is a great dish to try when you're slowly learning how to eat healthier. This bowl of cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella drizzled with pesto Genovese and topped with basil was nothing short of scrumptious. The slight saltiness of the pesto Genovese was a beautiful accent to the sweet cherry tomatoes and light mozzarella.
And if you want to go hardcore with your new year's resolution, go with Leggara Superfood. This hefty plate packed with roasted pumpkins, green beans, baby spinach, lentils, avocado, beetroot, mixed leaves and pine nuts tossed in balsamic syrup. Though I wouldn't recommend this to those who dislike "healthy tasting food", I enjoyed this dish as well. There were just some mouthfuls that I found bitter so I made sure that the succeeding bites had beetroot in it.
I decided to skip pasta during this visit as I wanted to try more of PizzaExpress' pizzas. And I think I made the right move.
I started off with the classic Margherita which is topped with mozzarella and tomato. The straightforward no-frills pizza made me smile from ear to ear as it brought me back to the days when I scrape all the pizza toppings (and just eat my crust with tomato sauce and leftover cheese). Though it may not be the best margherita I've tried but this is the type of pizza I would love to munch on to cheer me up after a tiring day.
Lava Pizza was not part of the sneak preview menu but was highly recommended by S. And how can I say no when asked to try this pizza described as "topped with fresh burrata"? I simply can't say no to that!
The fresh plate of Lava Pizza was served right after and it was stunning-- generous serving of burrata on top of warm pizza with cherry tomatoes and olives. Though it took me some time before I was able to dig in, the burrata stayed in its lovely soft texture and oozes out every time I take a slice. Make sure to eat it with olives for that sharp contrast in flavor. I noticed though that this one has to be eaten with fork and knife as it tends to be too soft to be held.
Liguria was great too! This seafood packed pizza has prawns, mussels, squid, clams, capers and olives. It is also topped with garlic, parsley, lemon, béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs. I drizzled my slice with lemon juice for extra zest and it was love at first bite. I could be a bit biased though as I love anything garlicky, tangy and seafood. Yes, it was a marriage of a lot of things I love.
To cap my meal, I had Big Bad Brownie.
At first, I thought that it was priced pretty steep for a small serving of vanilla gelato topped with chocolate brownie chunks, crushed Italian biscotti, vanilla wafer, pistachio and drizzled with caramel sauce. But... it was worth it. Each spoonful was blissful and despite being full from eating three pizzas, I managed to finish it. The brownie chunks were decadent and went well with the smooth vanilla gelato. I also liked how the biscotti, wafer and pistachio added crunch to this sweet treat. I can't wait to have more!
Overall, it was a lovely experience. I would definitely be back for more of the pizzas I've tried and Big Bad Brownie. PizzaExpress, you are surely doing a great job in creating a world made happier by pizza.
If you plan to dine here, the best photo spot is the table outside the facade of the store. However, it is right below the A/C which will make your food cold. I also do not recommend you to eat there as I had problems shooing flies (a prevailing problem in Uptown Bonifacio due to construction happening around the area). I didn't experience that problem though when inside the store.