A slight bit of bias may sneak in to this week’s Eating Out feature after my visit to Pizza Express.
I have to admit I’m a big fan of this chain; I’ve never had a bad experience and I’ve been to outlets in several parts of Scotland and England over the years.
I’ve found it to be consistently good, and, because of that, it’s become a place I can trust in the sometimes slippy world of restaurants and dining out.
Looking around the restaurant on the second floor of the Ocean Terminal shopping centre during my visit, it was clear to see that a lot of people felt the same.
One of the things that Pizza Express seems to have mastered is that it draws in all kinds of people all looking for different things.
I saw friends grabbing a quick lunch, a young family of five taking a break from the shopping, two teenagers who had decided to treat an Italian-speaking relative, and numerous couples enjoying a slow, romantic Saturday.
One of the things that makes this place so attractive is the chilled out vibe, with the added extra of the sound of a bustling open kitchen and the most tempting herby aroma.
And, despite Pizza Express’s 50 years in the business, it’s managed to remain remarkably stylish and fresh.
I started with one of my favourites – mozzarella and tomato salad served with basil, pesto and extra virgin olive oil.
To drink, I treated myself to the eaterie’s Sicilian lemonade. It’s chilled, sweet and refreshing.
For the main, I dismissed the healthy option in favour of the Romana La Reine with prosciutto cotto ham, olives, mushrooms, mozzarella and tomato. But I was clearly in a minority as I noticed the Leggera pizza – a thin, crisy pizza which has its centre replaced by fresh salad – was a popular choice among fellow diners, making pizza a guilt-free experience coming in at just 500 calories.
Pasta was another firm favourite at my table. The pollo pesto is a tempting dish of ever there was one – chicken, mushrooms, red onion, mozzarella, gran moravia cheese and cavatappi pasta spirals in a four cheese and pesto sauce.
Another relatively new and happy addition to the menu is the dolcetti – a mini dessert served with a coffee, tea or a liqueur coffee. This is a perfect end– sweet enough but small enough to continue shopping.