I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the only places I eat at are independent restaurants and cool hangouts that ‘nobody’/everybody knows about. I’m not that rich and not that hipster cool.
If the place has good food (something slightly different always helps), service and a lively atmosphere, I’m generally happy. Price obviously varies on occasion however midweek meals out usually call for cheap eats and with so many deals, offers and discounts on offer often at many of the UK’s restaurant chains, you’re a fool not to take advantage.
Pizza Express is now definitely one of my fave chains but I have come a whole 360 on it. When it comes to chains, consistency is key and this is where this particular brand excels. I went through the ‘it’s alright’ phase and generally tried to avoid it due to its market domination, but since my love affair began with my favourite Padana pizza, I really do love Pizza Express wherever I go (Tastecard’s 241 offer helps too…)
So I was thrilled when I was invited to try it’s newest Birmingham home – Moseley. Pre-disclosure confession: I’d never visited Moseley before this occasion… a heinous Brummie sin in some eyes, I know. My dearest apologies.
I do know the arrival of the restaurant has re-fuelled the ‘Keep Moseley Special’ campaign, the biggest independent vs. chains war in the city since Grand Central announced their influx of new dining brands to the city. So I did feel slightly guilty visiting the neighbourhood for the first time for this reason (soz).
Tucked into our booth and straight into the food, me and my dining pal decided to brave it and go against our steadfast PE faves. Pizza Express is one of the only places I’ll rarely stray from one dish on the menu – the Romana Padana. Goats cheese, caramelised onions and spinach… it’s one sexy combination.
So going against this Padana desire, we went for antipasti followed by cannelloni & the PE special Calabrese pizza to share. We also opted for a cheeky Monday tipple each, Shiraz for S and Sauvy B for me 😋
We absolutely adored this antipasti and, to be honest, could have quite happily enjoyed this over another glass of wine, with maybe a touch of dessert to top us off. The crisp cheesy breads, sundried tomatoes, buffalo mozzerella (always) and harissa & tomato dip were our faves. TOTALLY RECOMMEND.
But of course we ploughed on through to enjoy their reinstated cannelloni dish, back by popular demand. We both enjoyed the creamy, tomatoey sauce which covered the cannelloni, of which there were loads of tubes, but agreed the spinach and ricotta filling would probably become too samey if you had the whole thing solo, as cannelloni often does.
We both also discovered a new fave in the Calabrese pizza; a now-not-so-unusual rectangular pizza topped with a delightful hefty mix of mozzarella, spicy Calabrese sausage, ‘nduja sausage, red chilli, pesto, roasted peppers, rocket and Gran Milano cheese.
Despite dining at a venue I love and know so well, straying from our status quo definitely paid off this time. We were stuffed, so sadly no dessert, but satisfied with the new Italian tastes inside us.
The guys at Pizza Express also always have their brand, particularly their team service, down to a tee, always creating a friendly, relaxed, comfortable and fun environment to suit all group types. Their new Moseley opening is no exception.
As for ‘keeping Moseley special’, I can’t comment on ‘the good old days’ having never visited the area before now. However, I can’t help but feel I’d much rather see a high street with warm, inviting places lit up and bustling with happy families and faces of an evening than rows of dark boarded up shops or closed signs.
Thanks to all at Pizza Express Moseley for a lovely evening (sorry we didn’t take you up on dessert!). I’d come here again, perhaps once I’d done Moseley justice and given the array of independents in the area a visit…
Take a look at my post on Hickory’s Smokehouse here for a similar analysis on branded restaurants.
Disclosure: I was kindly invited to Pizza Express for a complimentary meal with my plus one, which I accepted due to my aforementioned long-standing allegiance to Pizza Express. This doesn’t affect my honest review and clearly has done nothing to slow my love for Pizza Express.