Pizza On The Green V Pizza Express
They're both the upper crust but does one have the edge?
If you look up Pizza Express on Time Out you'll find that only a few of its 320 restaurants have warranted a review, such is the uniform quality of its ever-expanding brand.
And this is both its strength and its weakness in my opinion. You know what you're going to get, it's tried and trusted, and you'll have few complaints on the service, but...you've seen it all before, and for me perhaps here's a case for too much of a good thing?
My husband used the analogy of a posh McDonalds that only sells pizza which is harsh but food for thought. Certainly the menu hasn't changed all that much in years and they only evolution in the pizza format I found was that they appeared smaller. Or could it be that my girth and appetite have grown?
Dough balls to kick off, followed by American Hot (£8.10) for the side kick and Siciliana (which is actually a break from my usual predictable La Reine (£7.95). And Primitivo, Cenobio was the red we drank - at £14.95 it wasn't pricey.
Anyway, I don't want to get negative. I would never turn down a Pizza Express. There is something comforting about those old dough balls, and the pizza bases have always been pretty hard to beat...
...Until I finally got round to trying out Pizza On The Green, sure to be packed out in the coming months with an ice rink on its doorstep.
It's a break from the norm for Pizza Express loyalists but I can personally assure that the pizzas are comparable. The decor isn't 'pizza expressy' - it's less dramatic, clean cut, but no less well-considered, and probably more personal, cosy.
Where at Pizza Express not ordering a pizza would be a traversy, at Pizza On The Green, I feel a bit uncouth for not having tried all the impressive-sounding other mains on the menu. We'll be back to do it more justice, but I'm pleased for now just to have sampled their starters which were the best we've had for a while. and my apppendage had the Calamari, fresh squid rings deep fried. The calamari were described as 'just right', crunchy on the outside and succulent within. But nothing could really beat my Gamberi, Tiger Prawns cooked in wine and lemon suce, £6.50 - huge, not over done for once, and in a sauce that had us talking for a good 10 minutes.
For the purposes of review we both had pizzas - a Siciliana for me, tomato, mozzerella, ham, artichoke, olives and garlic, at £6.90 (and I added mushrooms just to be difficult). My accessory had Salsicci Piccante, tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni sausage and hot green pepper at £7.60. Both delivered!
And with a bottle of Pino Nero to wash it down at £16, this had been a very reasonably-priced meal. More than value for money when you think that the memory of those prawns is still with us.
So in conclusion, both more than deserve a 'pizza' the Ealing action (had to do it!), but if you fancy breaking the mould, being a bit individual and supporting local enterprise everything leads the way to Haven Green. Just don't break your leg on the ice on the way!
November 16, 2007