Having a younger sister who has been vegan for a couple of years now means I am always on the lookout for somewhere to eat when we we meet up. I’ve always open to eating vegan, but often if we eat as a family my Dad will always look for meat on the menu. Finding a place to suit all tastes without my sister missing out can be hard, so when Pizza Express invited me to a vegan pizza making party to check out their vegan menu I had to see if they were up to the mark.
Arriving at the sleek looking venue on Gloucester Road we got to know each other over some of Pizza Express’s famous dough balls and other nibbles along with a Prosecco or two. The dough balls and dips are vegan and, as I am sure you are aware if you have never been to a Pizza Express, bloody delicious! The hard part is knowing when to stop!
We heard a short talk from some of the PR staff about the history of Pizza Express, it’s been around since the 1960’s and really was a revolution at the time. I was surprised by how long all the staff we met had been with the company too, around 15 years each on average so they must be doing something right! They explained how they are always looking to revolutionise their pizzas and bring something new to the market without compromising on quality. Their vegan pizza is something which had been experimented with for years to get it just right, as they didn’t want to rush something to market that wasn’t as good as their regular offerings. After that it was time to get stuck in!
Now as you may know I am no chef. Actually that’s an understatement, recently I tried to make my boyfriend cheese on toast and somehow managed to screw it up! Luckily the chefs here are very friendly and patient with my lack of culinary skills. They made all the steps as clear as possible and were more than willing to lend a hand to those who were struggling (tossing the dough is harder than it looks I swear!)
The dough had been made ready for us when we arrived so that worry was taken care of. The chefs told us to get our hands stuck in. We started by kneading and stretching the dough, including the aforementioned tossing which I could not master! Thankfully they were able to lend a hand to save my pizza and create the signature thin base. Then we transferred it into the pan, using our fingers to create dents along the rim which would become the crust when baked, a really simple tip that I’ll be trying when I make pizza at home. Next it was time to ladle on the tomato base which we spread out by tilting the pan till it filled the whole base. We all looked like racing drivers navigating a tricky turn with our pizza pan steering wheels!
Finally it was time for everyone’s favourite, toppings! Our table was filled with all kinds of vegan treats to add to our pizza and I may have gone a little overboard, adding a bit of everything I fancied, which was most of the offerings! I fell in love with the roquito peppers which I’d not tried before and were a delicious mix of sweet and spicy, honestly I could eat a whole jar!
Toppings applied it was time for the cheese! Pizza Express use a cheese which has to be frozen before hand as it melts quickly, and comes pre-portioned to avoid cross contamination, which they combined with half a cherry tomato on the top of the crust to signify it is a vegan order. Each pizza gets two portions of the cheese, which we sprinkled on liberally.
Covered in flour we headed back to our table to wait my feast. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long, the pizzas came out super fast. Now normally when it comes to pizza I always choose one with as much meat and spice as possible, but I can 100% say I didn’t miss the meat at all in this pizza. As for the cheese, well I never noticed any taste difference from my usual order so that has to say something good! Even with my strange mix of toppings (I was the only one to add raisins, probably for good reason) I can honestly say this is hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!
Now no good meal is complete without a taste of something sweet, there was a selection of vegan gelato to choose and I just had to try coconut. It was light, refreshing and delightfully sweet, reminding me slightly of a light fondant. It was a great end to the meal.
Pizza Express will definitely be high up on my list next time I go out for food with my sister, there really are options for everyone and I totally believe how committed they are at trying to make a quality meal for all, not just because it is ‘on trend’. You can choose to make your own from their range of fresh ingredients like me, or go with their Vegan Giardiniera a combination of artichokes, asparagus, red onion, garlic oil and black olives. Pizza Express want vegans to eat the same as everyone else without making substitutes.
Where’s your favourite place for vegan eats on the high street?
*colab post with Pizza Express, all words and opinions my own.