Posted by: mikeydude | June 14, 2009

Pizza Express Cardiff City Centre Review (4/10)

Times are hard…. which is why I brought my lovely to this chain Italian restaurant specializing in Pizza. I’m not usually much of a pizza fan; frankly associating it with fast food, but memories of European flat bread pizza is difficult for anyone to refuse. On top of that I had a voucher that entitled me to free Garlic Bread and a free main meal with every main ordered. Can’t go wrong with that I thought…

Hmmm… can’t say much for the place itself. On a positive note I like the fact that I can see the pizza chef in his black and white stripes working the dough and cooking his pizzas in the “furnace”. However the actual seating area seems to be split into 2. One half is near the entrance … minimalist I would say… and the further seating area had purple funky seats which i assume are for families. Not the nicest decor in the world, but then what do you expect?

Waiters were friendly enough, although I needed to show 2 of them my voucher before it was finally accepted. All the drinks/wines were mainly Italian fare, and so I boringly went for the Peroni’s beer and the Mrs went for some Sicilian Lemonade. The menu is quite extensive. Nice to see that they stick to their specialty of pizza and don’t try branching out into other areas of Italian cuisine. We decided to go for the Theo Randall specials; the Gamberattini (£10.95) (flat pizza with shrimps, zucchini, garlic, tomato and creme freche) and the Theo’s Favorita (£9.85) (mozarella, parma ham, olives and rocket leaf).

The free garlic bread is a single piece (£2.40!!!), which i think is steep for what it is. Quite pleasant to eat though. Nice and light, without being too greasy which you so often find in these chain restaurants nowadays.

garlic bread

The main courses I felt were a little disappointing. Both pizzas had far too much dough relative to topping, even though the dough itself was nice and light. Times are hard for them too it seems, as there simply wasn’t enough shrimp on the pizza to give it that taste of the sea that I’m assuming the creator was trying to convey. The chilli oil that came with it tasted of nothing. The Favorita had about 3 pieces of parma ham on it, which was even worse than mine. Nevertheless the combination of mozarella, parma ham, and olive was a very tasty combination… if only there was more of it. Another point I noticed was that the menu mentions rocket, whilst we actually received spinach leaves on ours. Unfortunately I didn’t notice until I started writing this review. I would also like to add that my dining partner had the biggest workout of her restaurant life trying to cut the pizzas into edible mouthfuls (a pizza cutter is provided, but that was even harder to use than the blunt knife!).

theo's gamberittini
theo's favorita

I decided to give the desserts a go before making my complete verdict of the place. It was nice to see plenty of Gelato on the menu which brought back fantastic memories of world class gelato that I ate in Tuscany 2 years ago. I am sad to say that the quality of this gelato was nowhere near that standard. I opted for good old Tiramisu (£4.55) and I must say the portion was very generous indeed. I could even taste the alcohol in the soaked biscuits, which makes a nice change! I would say it was the nicest part of the meal for me. My opposite had cheesecake (£4.55) which came with a scoop of vanilla gelato. She seemed to find it “ok” although too rich for her. I found it a bit bitter after eating my sweet Tiramisu, so thumbs down there.

tiramisu
cheesecake

My total bill came to £25.50 after “reminding” them again that I had the voucher. All in all the meal was satisfactory, but I remain skeptical of chain restaurants. It just didn’t leave a lasting impression for me to ever consider going back again. Please bear in mind the score would be even lower without the voucher.

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