Generally I am not a fan of Italian restaurants, because as before, I feel that most of the food is something that I could probably make myself. However, a really good pizza is something that falls into the category of something that I cannot be bothered to make myself. Pizza varies quite a lot from the thick, doughy bases of the typical takeout offering, to the 'classic Italian' thin crust and Pizza Express pizzas are generally the latter.
The crowd consists of mainly family and friends get togethers, which makes for a relaxed atmosphere. However, the service has been slow on most occasions, which can be frustrating if you're not the type of person who likes to hang around once all food and drink has been consumed.
There are quite a few vegetarian options to chose from. I usually go for the Giardiniera pizza which is topped with a yummy pesto-tomato sauce and lots of veggies including asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms and peppers. There's also the Veneziana, a more mediterranean option with capers, sultanas and pine kernels and various pasta and salads. But this time I had the special by Theo Randall, Theo's Favorita, invoking the vegetarian substitute of artichokes for prosciutto di Parma.
The oval base was a cross between the typical Italian thin crust and the doughy 'Chicago crust'. There was little artichoke to speak of but there was a generous helping of fior di latte mozzarella and rocket leaves scattered on top. The mozzarella, however, was fairly bland and I expect some strong parmesan would have provided better flavour. The peppery rocket and olives definitely added the most flavour to an otherwise fairly bland pizza. Although I was provided with a pizza cutter, because of the awkward shape of the pizza I found myself using the butter knife and fork, and nearing completion my pointer fingers ached from the effort (which is a reoccuring problem having tried other pizzas).
For dessert, my partner and I split the cheesecake, which was actually very good, but rather oddly came with a raspberry coulis, garnished with strawberries. Despite this we found ourselves fighting over the last few mouthfuls, and him wishing he had ordered his own.
Overall, Pizza Express offers fresh, reasonably priced Italian food in a comfortable environment but could benefit from better service.