One of our favourite family past-times is the cinema followed by a meal – or vice versa – it is something that means we spend some quality time together and meals always mean we can have a great chat, so when Pizza Express invited us to review their new Autumn menu, we knew just how we would do it!
On Sunday, we set off for Dorchester to watch the film ‘Trolls’. We hadn’t visited the Plaza cinema before and we were suitably impressed with both the seating and the price (far cheaper than the Odeon up the road). I have to admit to sitting there watching the film with a huge smile on my face for an hour and a half.
Once the film was over, it was a 5 minute walk to Pizza Express (next to the Odeon up the road!) and we were met with a really beautiful building with ample seating both indoors and out – although it was far too cold for Al Fresco!
We were seated in the corner of a well-lit part of the restaurant – they must have spotted my camera – and presented with our menus. Our waitress, Ally, also took our drinks order. Elderflower for me, coke for Grace and raspberry lemonade for Ross. Ross later ordered the Bavaria non-alcoholic beer which he confirmed was very good. Grace was also given an activity pack which contained stickers and puzzles as well as a pot of unbreakable crayons! She maintains that she is ‘too old’ for such things now but couldn’t resist the moustache sticker!
I haven’t been to Pizza Express for a while so I was interested to see how the menu had changed. There were still the old favourites such as dough balls with garlic butter and the Dolcetti selections which are smaller desserts coupled with coffees – which I have always thought were such a good idea – but we were here to review the newer dishes on offer for this time of the year.
For starter, Ross chose the classic Italian antipasto, I had buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad which came with basil pesto and Grace, who was eating from the Piccolo (children’s) menu decided upon baked dough balls served with olive oil and balsamic (her favourite) and a salad of red pepper, cucumber and tomato.
All of us tasted each others – as we usually do – and we agreed that each dish was really good. I have to say that I really enjoyed mine. The mozzarella was really creamy and everything tasted very fresh. We also felt that they were all just the right size for a starter.
Main courses were a straightforward Margherita for Grace whilst Ross and I chose two of the new dishes – Cannelloni for him and a Basilicata Romana for me. Ross’ dish of Cannelloni was pasta filled with spinach and ricotta, baked with tomato, béchamel, mozzarella, garlic oil and Gran Milano cheese. The Basilicata Romana which I chose was a pizza topped with lamb, mint and chilli meatballs, red onion, mozzarella and garlic oil, finished with rocket, shaved Gran Milano cheese and basil pesto. The pizza base was capia pepper and tomato and I also opted for gluten free. We completed our main course with a side order of Polenta chips to share which were sprinkled with rosemary, baked in the oven and then finished with Gran Milano cheese and served with a honey & mustard dressing dip.
Once again, we all tasted a bit of each others and all agreed that everything was well-cooked and tasty as well as being a great portion size. Ross did state that he was slightly concerned that his might be more of a soup than a pasta because of the sauce – but he couldn’t have been more wrong! Grace was happy with her sensible-sized pizza for a children’s portion. I was really pleased with my pizza, having just the right amount of topping with each bite but I was particularly impressed with the gluten-free pizza base. The trouble with GF is that it can have a tendency to be too dry – but not so with this. It was crispy, tasted good and I had even forgotten that it was gluten free!
I have to admit that my portion sizes over the last few weeks haven’t been very big whilst I try and maintain my BMI ready for Spain. I did struggle to finish my pizza – but that wasn’t for the want of trying! However, as Grace always states, we have a couple of channels in our tummies and whilst our main course sections were closed, our dessert channels were open for business!
Grace chose the chocolate brownie which is topped with fresh strawberries and icing sugar and made from gluten-free flour. This was also served with a Bambinoccino – frothed milk sprinkled with chocolate powder. None of it touched the sides!
When I saw that Ross and I had to choose the chocolate fondant for pudding – as it was new on the menu – I knew it could go one of two ways. A disappointing, non-melting, less chocolate middle or a complete and utter chocolate fest of cake with oozing chocolate centre. I am pleased to report that it was most definitely the latter. Ross and I both agreed that the outer chocolate cake wasn’t too thick, there was the perfect amount of chocolate in the middle and who doesn’t love the sensation of warm chocolate with cold ice cream (or vanilla gelato to give it the proper Pizza Express title)?! We both agreed that this is quite possibly the best chocolate fondant we have ever had – and believe me, we have had a few!
I have been to a number of Pizza Express restaurants over the years. It’s funny because, even though I go in there expecting slightly less I have never come out feeling short-changed. I have always experienced a good service, fresh-tasting, well-prepared food and found them competitively priced. As a result I have always been pleasantly surprised and Dorchester’s branch was certainly no exception.
Disclosure: Thank you to Pizza Express and Tots100 for providing us with this meal in return for an honest review. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the owner of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.