‘Tis the season of food and festivities! As we approach the countdown to Christmas, many restaurants across the city of York and the rest of the country are whipping out festive menus and in the process, expanding our waistlines – but obviously, it is all worth it! After all, you cannot fully indulge in the Christmas festivities without food! On Saturday I was kindly invited to the newly reopened PizzaExpress situated on the York Designer Outlet, just outside of town, to review their new Christmas menu.
PizzaExpress is a well-known Italian restaurant chain worldwide – the first restaurant was opened in London’s Soho in 1965 and has come a long way since then, it now has 600 restaurants dotted all over the globe. They initially established their reputation by being one of the first restaurants to adopt the open kitchen method, where customers can watch the chefs or ‘pizzaiolos’ as they are named, stretch the pizza dough and cook the food right before their eyes. This breaks the boundary between chef and customer and is still a unique, and valued format of the restaurant today.
The PizzaExpress on the York Designer Outlet has just reopened with a new décor and feel, embodying the links to the York Racecourse which is not far from its location. Inside, the restaurant feels fresh and new, with lots of sharp lines, reminiscent of the current modern style. The walls are adorned with picture frames depicting the colourful artwork of jockey attires. The lighting style is fresh and creates an element of spaciousness, almost as if you are outside and not in a shopping centre. This reopening coincides with the launch of their 2017 festive menu which really does, have something for every taste.
Although initially, I did not think you could make Pizza festive, my experience at PizzaExpress changed my mind, somehow it works! The menu includes three Christmas Pizza options: a roast dinner pizza with beef and roast potatoes, a maple glazed gammon Romana and the vegetarian option, a pizza consisting of a nutty, cheese sauce with potatoes, red onion and rosemary. The deserts included the famous snowball dough balls as well as pear gelato. As demonstrated, there really is something for everybody. Also, a set menu of three courses and a drink is priced from £20.95 over the festive period, and if it is a party of five adults or more, the booker goes free! It really is a meal you cannot refuse over this Christmas period.
On Saturday I opted for a starter of calamari – which is one of my favourite things to indulge in when eating out. PizzaExpress serve their calamari with caesar dressing, parsley and a hint of lemon which adds a drop of refreshment to the salty, crispy texture of the calamari rings. Something quite rich and decadent is made light and invigorating. The amount was just right for a starter and if you are a calamari fan, definitely try this. Starters at PizzaExpress range from their festive Roasted Tomato Soup to a Classic Italian sharing Antipasto board. The starter prices range from £4-8 so there is versatility here too.
As a keen lover of Pizza, I was very intrigued to try the festive pizza specials at PizzaExpress. I opted for the Potato & Fontal vegetarian pizza option. I was sceptical at first, not having had potato on a pizza before but I was pleasantly surprised. The combination of the silky potatoes and rich garlic, herb and cheese sauce was reminiscent of the flavours of dauphinoise potatoes and a creamy risotto. All topped with fresh red onion, rosemary and parsley, served on a thin and crispy pizza dough made it a match made in heaven. The richness of the creamy sauce was counteracted by the sharp and tangy red onion and fresh herbs. If you are a garlic bread fan, this is simply a match made in heaven. The size of the pizza for the price (£13.95) is definitely good value.
Dessert is always my favourite part of any meal and I was not disappointed, torn between the Caramel and Pear Gelato and Sticky Toffee Bundt Cake – I opted for the later and my partner ordered the Caramel and Pear Gelato. The Bundt cake was reminiscent of all things Christmassy with hints of cinnamon and spices combined with decadent, thick toffee sauce and crunchy praline toffee pieces inside the sponge. It was topped with creamy caramel ice cream – the perfect accompaniment, a spoonful of this dessert really was the taste of Christmas in a mouthful. The Caramel and Pear Gelato was a more refreshing festive dessert with subtle hints of fruity pear, combined with creamy ice cream and topped with a Lotus Biscoff Biscuit; the perfect desert if your stomach is nearly full!
The newly mastered atmosphere combined with the new style of decor created an environment of freshness and relaxation. Although it was a busy Saturday when I attended, there was still a sense of relaxation and calmness. It delivered the perfect balance of hustle and bustle combined with tranquillity. The festive menu is broad in scope and offers something for a variety of taste buds. It is reasonably priced and definitely worth indulging in over the Christmas period.
PizzaExpress at York Designer Outlet is situated just outside of the city centre in St Nicholas Avenue, Fulford, YO19 4TA. Their telephone is 01904678683 for any contact or enquiries. The menu can be viewed here.