HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it
TELL US

UK pizza chains - best of the bunch?

h
Harters Apr 5, 2008 07:43 AM

My loyalty to Pizza Express dates back to ancient times when there were only handful of places - all in London. A trip to the capital would not be complete without a visit to the original (?) Wardour Street branch.

And, even now, when I crave pizza, I crave their American Hot. Plus ca change......

But with upstarts like Strada and Ask opening branches "up north", I begin to question my loyalty. So, I ask members, is it time to change? What, if anything, have these parvenus to offer over the nation's favourite?

  1. p
    ponyclub Apr 22, 2008 03:33 AM

    Have you tried Rosso Pomodoro? It got the seal of approval from my Italian (as in, from Italy...not Italian American!) friend. Had it over the weekend in Covent Garden and was really pleased.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ponyclub
      p
      pecandanish Apr 22, 2008 04:06 AM

      Croma provide a good value (quality, price) offer with a pleasant environment. the one in chorlton is particularly relaxing.

      Piccolinos in Manchester has a lovely buzz.

      Danillos in hale is the most fun of all.

      for the big boys, it has to be strada because they have the best pizzas; best bases and ovens and they arent stingy with the toppings. Pizza Express pizzas are either getting smaller or im getting bigger and fatter.

    2. clkristoff Apr 18, 2008 03:15 AM

      It's not a massive chain, but there's about 4 or 5 in London - Basilico. The pizza is fantastic, real mozzarella, sublte yet tasty sauce, thin, bubbly crust.. it's what all good pizzas are meant to be and if you're fortunate enough to be near one (Clapham Junction, Fulhum, etc.) they'll deliver. They've got a website, I think it's literally www.basilico.co.uk. Enjoy!!

      1. r
        rblack Apr 6, 2008 09:34 PM

        Pizza Express.

        /thread

        2 Replies
        1. re: rblack
          s
          sloepoke Apr 7, 2008 04:54 AM

          Strada is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than PE, in my opinion. Far better crust, nice wood-burned taste, better quality ingredients.

          And what's with the "American Hot" situation, anyway? As an American I can say it is a confluence of flavors I don't recognize as standard pizza fare at home.

          1. re: sloepoke
            h
            Harters Apr 7, 2008 05:26 AM

            Bit of an "English Muffin" scenario, perhaps. :-0

        2. h
          Harters Apr 6, 2008 11:24 AM

          Good job folk are confirming Pizza Express....Today's Sunday Times has a BOGOF offer running until 24 April (Sunday to Thursday).

          Off to claim it tomorrow night and check out the looks of a couple of new Lebanese restaurants reportedly now in Wilmslow (Cheshire) - which will make 3 middle eastern ones in the town. I didnt think middle eastern was particularly "Footballers Wives" cuisine......

          7 Replies
          1. re: Harters
            greedygirl Apr 6, 2008 12:43 PM

            Three middle eastern restaurants in Wilmslow - bizarre.

            I rarely eat at pizza chains, but when I do I usually choose Strada. I think it's better than Pizza Express, and the pizzas are more generously sized.

            1. re: greedygirl
              h
              Harters Apr 6, 2008 01:28 PM

              Ah. You know Wilmslow, then, GG?

              1. re: Harters
                greedygirl Apr 6, 2008 02:10 PM

                Only by reputation. Mr GG is a Mancunian - well, Stockport really (Cheadle). He has friends who live in Mobberley, which is very footballer's wives in its own right.

                Actually, and to keep this on topic, when we saw them last week they were talking about a small chain of Italian restaurants in the North which is part of the Heathcote empire. The Olive Press? There's even one in Cheadle Hulme now, apparently. Have you been there at all?

                1. re: greedygirl
                  h
                  Harters Apr 6, 2008 02:47 PM

                  Cheadle is almost home turf.

                  My review and subsequent dissing of the Cheadle Hulme Olive Press is here. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/267434

                  I mention an Italian restaurant round the corner that we used to go to a lot and planned to return to. It's the La Piazza - but the bad news is that gossip has it that's "gone off" recently. Pity if true. Nice family business.

                  If you & Mr GG are back in the Cheadle area at some point, may I recommend the Bay Tree in Cheadle itself. Nice neighbourhood restaurant. Gets packed - even midweek. Good three course meal for under twenty five quid. On Wilmslow Road, opposite the Post Office.

                  John

                  1. re: Harters
                    greedygirl Apr 6, 2008 03:06 PM

                    Thanks for the tip. We'll check it out next time we visit the paterfamilias. (He is now banned from eating out with us as he is always rude and ungrateful.)

                    Mr GG says La Piazza is "a nice neighbourhood Italian, nothing special". He took his Dad there a few months ago, I think. His Dad complained. But ate lots of garlic bread. He claims to hate garlic.

                    1. re: greedygirl
                      t
                      Theresa Apr 7, 2008 03:03 PM

                      Just to put a word in in defence of the Olive Press - I know that John had a bad experience/s in the Cheadle Hulme one, but the Liverpool version is good - it's more reliable that the more upmarket Simply Heathcotes ...

                      1. re: Theresa
                        h
                        Harters Apr 7, 2008 03:34 PM

                        My sense of fair play has come out again. I've also eaten in the OP in Manchester city centre. It was fine. Good service, Good pizza (but not PE standards!).

                        BTW, went to PE tonight to claim the BOGOF. Very busy for a Monday - no doubt all the Times readers.

                        And one of the new middle eastern places has closed, already. And the other one was doing literally no business. But looks worth a try (if pricey) - added to the "must visit sometime" list.

          2. t
            Theresa Apr 6, 2008 04:02 AM

            My relationship with Pizza Express also started at the Wardour St branch in the 70s - I was brought up in London, and used to go there with my sister as a treat after christmas shopping ... I still think it does good quality pizzas which you can rely on. Very expensive starters though - stingey portions of tomato and mozzarella I seem to remember.

            One other mini chain worth a mention is Porchetta in London - good pizzas and pasta.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Theresa
              s
              smartie Apr 22, 2008 08:13 PM

              I also used to go to the Pizza Express on Wardour St in the olden days when the plates were green and the pizzas a little bigger. Then cassata or chocolate bombe for dessert.

            2. nanette Apr 5, 2008 12:19 PM

              Pizza Express hands down. Strada, Ask, and Zizzi are mere imposters with blunt knives!

              1. d
                DollyDagger Apr 5, 2008 10:04 AM

                It's got to be Pizza Express. It's one of the few places you can visit anywhere in London and know that you're going to eat well. I only wish I'd gone there instead of the brutally bad Thai place at the o2 Arena. I'd happily eat their Funghi di Bosco with pepperoni and parma ham any day of the week.

                Don't know about Strada, but ASK is good too - especially if you're with people who don't want pizza. (Their pastas are pretty good).

                Are there others? Please, not including the dreaded Pizza Hut.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DollyDagger
                  PhilD Apr 5, 2008 10:52 AM

                  On the subject of chain restaurants heres an article on what happens to the tips diners leave and who gets them. Pizza Express, Strada etc are mentioned.
                  http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2008...
                  I think it will make me think twice about who I choose to dine with in the UK - Pizza Express whilst not squeaky clean seems better than a lot.

                Show Hidden Posts