Time for a tasty pizza (again)

When it comes to chains, I really do like eating at Zizzi. Unlike some other chains, I don’t think I have ever had a need to complain. The branch at Cabot Circus is very nice and I have been there quite a few times. Despite the openness of the restaurant it doesn’t feel crammed with tables like a canteen, even when it gets busy.

We had a warm welcome and we could choose where we wanted to sit, which was nice. 

There is quite a varied menu, but in the end I went with the Classic Pinoli Pizza. This has goat’s cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

Classic Pinoli Pizza. This has goat's cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

Checking the blog I realised that I had been to this branch of Zizzi in Bristol back in March and had ordered the same pizza then as I had this time.

Back then it was tasty and this time it was equally tasty. Last time I had it on a rustica thin and crispy base, this time I went with the doughy classic base.

The service was quick and efficient, but we weren’t rushed at all.

Time for a cheaper pizza

In the past we’ve had some good experiences at the Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway and we’ve had some pretty poor ones too. We have been there a number of times, and they have revamped the places a few times over the years. Now it has a more of an American diner feel to it, rather than the Italian restaurant style it had before.

One of the key reasons we decided to return to eat was that we had a special offer. We used an offer code, so we only paid five pounds for each dish, which made the whole meal very good value for money.

Though we had to wait for a while, we were once our table was ready we were given a warm and friendly welcome and and it was quick and easy to place our order.

I ordered the Funghi Luganica – A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

unghi Luganica - A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

I’ve had this pizza before at Bella Italia and I enjoyed it last time, and I enjoyed it this time as well. The base is mushroomy (is that a word) and savoury, over the traditional tomato that you find on most pizza. The chunks of mushroom on the pizza were very nice and I really enjoyed them.

My son had the Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

This looked great and he said it was fresh and tasty. It was finished off, which doesn’t always happen.

My wife had the fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

However this didn’t look anything like the picture on the menu on the website when we got home, where are the leeks? Having said that she did say the pasta was very tasty.

Service was mixed, our main waiter was warm and friendly, but other staff looked rushed and flustered.

Overall though we had an enjoyable dining experience.

Time to enjoy the meal please…

Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol

I haven’t been to Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway for a while now, I think it was for my birthday last year following a game of bowling.

Okay having checked my blog, yes it was last year…

Time for a pizza and some antipasto

With just the three of us, and having just visited the cinema we ventured in, having booked a table earlier that evening. That made sense as the place was quite busy and we were given a nice booth.

One of the features of Pizza Express is that they individualise their restaurants depending on location. The Weston-super-Mare branch for example has beach huts. Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway has a number of Banksy inspired graffiti executed in his distinctive stencilling technique. I don’t think they are painted by him though.

Taking the time to peruse the menu I was tempted to have a salad, but in the end decided to go with the pizza option.

I was tempted by the Calabrese, which I have had before, but decided to try the new Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I was warned that despite no mention of this on the menu description, the tomato sauce that they use on this pizza was quite spicy, nice of them to warn me, but I decided to go down that road.

Before the pizza arrived we shared a portion of Calamari, described as lightly-crumbed, crispy calamari rings served with Çaesar dressing, a wedge of lemon and fresh parsley.

The squid was quite tender, even if the crumb wasn’t that crunchy. I thought it was okay, but I was a little disappointed. Regular readers of the blog will know that I find the way in which a restaurant serves squid or calamari, is a good way to compare or benchmark across various restaurants.

The pizza arrived and it was large, the Romana base, is stretched out and as a result is thin and crispy. I do quite like this kind of base.

Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I found the pizza delicious and tasty. There was plenty of mushrooms and they had a nice mushroom flavour, it was the reason I chose this pizza more than any other reason.

Our table also saw the Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

This was delicious and fresh.

Another member of our party had the Fiorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese. Apart from the olives, it was eaten with gusto and pronounced scrummy.

iorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese.

Overall we were well pleased with the food, which was fresh, hot and tasty.

As for the service… well that’s a slightly different matter. To start off booking the table and the welcome we received was excellent. It was warm and friendly and we were made to feel right at home.

Alas our drinks order was incorrect and we had to send it back, even though I think it was a genuine mistake down to a noisy busy restaurant.

We had one big concern, the jug of tap water we were given without asking, was a nice touch. What did concern us was the huge crack in the glass jug which was leaking water. We were worried that the jug would break apart… We got a replacement, and an apology. That jug also had a crack, not as big, but still….

Our starter of calamari arrived promptly and we enjoyed eating it, but we hadn’t even finished our final mouthful when our pizzas arrived. I do like a bit of a gap between the starter and the main, and prefer not to have them on top of each other. We have gone out to eat and when going out it’s not just about the food, it’s the whole experience.

We hadn’t even finished our mains when we got asked a couple of times if we had finished. Rushing people isn’t needed (there were a fair few empty tables) and it can ruin what is actually a quite nice experience otherwise.

Overall not as good service as it could have been, the staff were certainly friendly, helpful and polite, but the service felt somewhat rushed and disorganised. When you get asked a few times if you want desert, you know that something is amiss.

Having said that we did really enjoy the food and overall the whole experience was good. Would we go again? Yes we would.

A different kind of pizza

Bristol has many places to eat and as well as high street chains there are many independent places. Having been invited to dinner the family headed off to one such independent place, the Florence Lounge in Totterdown in Bristol.

It certainly is a popular place with most tables reserved, even though we went to eat in the early evening. It was a hot and sunny day, so they had put most of their tables outside. They don’t have air-conditioning, so on a hot day you will want to sit outside.

I went with the Gamberi pizza. It came with a base covered in homemade tomato sauce, baby spinach, mozzarella, king prawns, silver skin anchovies, roasted asparagus, black olives, lime and rocket.

Gamberi Pizza

I loved how there was a varied selection of toppings on the pizza and the handful of fresh rocket was a nice addition. The prawns were very tasty and I enjoyed the silver skin anchovies. If these had been traditional salted anchovies then I may not have ordered the pizza. The base was cooked well and wasn’t soggy. I have had better bases recently and I felt that it let down the pizza slightly.

Unlike many other restaurants, you order and then pay at the till. The food is then bought to your table.

For those who are gluten free, unlike many pizza places these days, the only gluten free option is gluten free pasta and there is no gluten free pizza available.

Be aware that it is cash only, but there is a free ATM next door in the Tesco. Also it doesn’t have a licence, but you can bring your own alcohol if you want to (again useful having the Tesco next door.

It was a nice pizza

I do like the rustica pizzas you can get at Zizzi, the thin and crispy base is a tasty alternative to the solid doughy bases you can sometimes have at other (especially American style) chains.

This time I went for the Pinoli Pizza, which can be had with the rustica base. This has goat’s cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

Pinoli Pizza Goat's cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, sunblush tomatoes, pine nuts, riserva cheese & basil.

The pizza was cooked well, the base was thin and crispy with a hint of soft dough at the edges. The topping, though in my opinion, a little sparse, was tasty and delicious.

The service was warm, welcoming and friendly.

One of these is not like the other

On my most recent visit to Prezzo, I decided to have something different, however they had a run on the Calabria Burger so I had to choose something else. I had enjoyed the Fiorentina Pizza on a previous visit. So needing to make a quick decision, I decided to go again with the Fiorentina Pizza that I had last time.

The Fiorentina Pizza is a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg. The last time I thought this was a very tasty pizza, I really liked the toppings and the base was cooked well.

So as you can imagine my expectations were quite high, however though my pizza was nice, the egg, which last time had a nice soft yolk, was fully cooked this time. The flavour was still there, but I had a slight twinge of disappointment that it didn’t look like this.

Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.

I did contemplate complaining, but wasn’t sure if I had grounds for a valid complaint, especially as I wasn’t sure how the egg was supposed to be cooked on the pizza, maybe the last time I had it, it wasn’t supposed to have a soft yolk.

Another visit to Prezzo

It took five years from my first visit to Prezzo to visit it again. This time is was less than month since my previous visit to go there again.

Having had an enjoyable meal at their branch in Euston, this visit was a family celebration at the branch in Weston-super-Mare. This is quite a new branch, less than a year old. We arrived early evening on a Saturday, or you could have even described it as late afternoon. It’s a nice smart clean restaurant with a variety of seating options available. We were quite a large party so we just had some tables pushed together. We were given a warm welcome and we sat down perused the menu. Unlike a lot of places these days, their set menu is available all the time, seven days a week and it is quite a good set menu at that.

I started with the Caprese Salad, tomato and burrata cheese with basil pesto and balsamic glaze.

Caprese Salad

The tomato was ripe and the burrata cheese was fresh and tasty. A really nice starter.

I had the Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.

Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.

This was a very tasty pizza, I really liked the toppings and the base was cooked well.

I wasn’t going to go with a desert, but I did fancy a coffee, looking over the dessert menu, I went with the Affogato. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream served with a double shot of espresso and a lemon cannoli. Wasn’t too enamoured with the cannoli, but did enjoy the espresso over ice cream.

Overall a tasty meal. The service did leave a little bit to be desired, initially it started off well and our food arrived in a timely manner. However we did get asked three times if we wanted dessert, seemed they were desperate to provide us with dessert. They also provided us with the wrong bill. Ah well, it was a tasty meal.

Late night visit

I had spent most of the day travelling, so after arriving late into London, and my first choice having closed their kitchen I popped into Prezzo.

The last time I went to Prezzo was five years ago (in York). We had some great food there, but in the end the service let us down. Not that I remembered any of that when I walked into the Euston Road branch of Prezzo. It’s not as though I have been avoiding Prezzo, but as a high street chain, which is slightly more expensive than other high street Italian chains, the other chains usually win out when making a choice. We have a new Prezzo down in Weston, but when we went out to eat we went to the Pizza Express next door. Both serve pizza and pasta and though the choices in Prezzo look inviting, they’re not inviting enough to make us choose them, it would seem. This time, even though there is a Pizza Express on the Euston Road, the branch of Prezzo was closer to my hotel than the Pizza Express branch. So into Prezzo I popped.

Despite the hour, I was given a warm welcome and shown to a table. They had some interesting choices on the main menu, and I was tempted slightly by the calamari, but decided to save some money and go with the set menu. It was nice that their set menu was available at that late time, so I went with two courses, the stuffed mushrooms and the chicken and pepperoni pizza.

The stuffed baked mushrooms were topped with mozzarella, onion and garlic.

stuffed mushrooms

I thought these might be bigger, and have more cheese. Having said that I did like them.

The Tre Gusti Pizza was topped with pepperoni, seasoned chicken and pancetta.

tri gusti pizza

This was really nice. The base was doughy but nicely crisp on the surface. The sauce wasn’t too salty. I did think it could have had some more pancetta.

Service was quick, excellent and friendly. Food was rather nice, I enjoyed the mushrooms and the pizza was fresh, hot and tasty.

Yes, it was okay

Staying up in Ealing for a couple of nights on our second night we went to Pizza Express, in the main as they do a very nice gluten-free pizza and the other places we liked the sound of, didn’t have a strong or varied gluten-free menu. Well to be honest the little one who is on a gluten-free diet wanted pizza, so pizza it was.

Though it was Friday evening and we hadn’t booked the place did have space for us and we were given a warm welcome. Compared to other Pizza Express establishments, this was rather crowded and cramped, but we weren’t elbowing each other, so was okay.

I did consider going with the pasta, but from the menu it sounded like everything was cooked in the pizza oven, al forno, anyhow, so I went with the pizza.

I ordered the Quattro Carni Pizza. Finocchiona, Coppa, Milano salami, pancetta, tomato and buffalo mozzarella, finished with rocket and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

Quattro Carni Pizza. Finocchiona, Coppa, Milano salami, pancetta, tomato and buffalo mozzarella, finished with rocket and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

The food arrived quite promptly and I loved the fresh rocket and Gran Milano cheese on top of my pizza. I did think the pizza was a little over-cooked for my liking which meant it was difficult to discern the four different meats on the pizza, but there were some good flavours in there. The rocket and cheese on top added some nice freshness and bite to what otherwise could have been a somewhat salty pizza.

The service was excellent, and made what was otherwise an okay pizza experience, into a good pizza experience.

Time for a pizza and some antipasto

I don’t always get my first choice when looking for somewhere to eat as a family, even when it’s my birthday. It’s not that I like different places, a member of the family has a gluten-free diet and despite the wider choice you have these days, it’s not always about the choices. So after a game of bowling we ventured off to Pizza Express.

I do quite like how the different branches of Pizza Express reflect their locality. The Pizza Express at Southampton has a ocean liner styling, whilst the one up at Cribbs Causeway has a lot of Banksy style artwork up on the walls.

Though it was a Friday night, and we had booked, the place wasn’t too busy. I wonder if it’s busier during lunchtimes, because of the shopping.

As it was my birthday I decided to start with the sharing antipasto platter.

antipasto

On the menu this is described as containing a selection of Italian meats: Finocchiona, Coppa, Milano salami and Calabrese sausage, with olives, artichoke, roasted tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, sweet Peppadew peppers and dough baked with Gran Milano cheese, accompanied by garlic butter and pestorissa, a harissa spiced tomato dip.

We went with the bigger sharing platter and that was just about right for five (combined with some gluten free dough balls). Okay if you are really greedy then you might want to order two of them. The salami was nice and fresh. Sometimes with these kinds of things, they are prepared so far in advance that the salami has dried out. The bread was interesting, but tasty. It could have done with some more artichoke, there were just two pieces.

For my main course I went with the Campana on a thin crusty Romana base. On top was crumbled pork & fennel sausage, friarielli, tomato, garlic oil and mozzarella, finished with Gran Milano cheese and parsley on a Romana base.

This was an enjoyable tasty pizza. I think it could have done with a little more friarielli. Friarielli or rapini is sometimes referred to as broccoli, but is actually a kind of turnip greens. Quite tasty.

Overall it was a really nice meal and I did enjoy it.