“Pizza. It’s what we do. Really well. So in our kitchens, there are no fryers, no microwaves. Just an oven. Everything on the menu must work around that.” Pizza Express
It’s no secret that I love pizza. My favourite casual family dining restaurant back in the UK is Pizza Express which is found on every high street but they are few and far between here in the UAE, fortunately as of very recently we now have two branches open in the capital. Imagine my delight to be invited back to Jazz@PizzaExpress located at The Hub in the World Trade Center Mall to sample dishes from the new Spring menu.
The teenager is as much as a fan as me so together we set off on a pizza tasting mission. Some things are guaranteed at Pizza Express, for instance you can always get some dough balls and your favourite pizza but with the ever-changing seasonal selections, you can also try something new too. Greeted with a glass of prosecco we began working our way through a selection of the new Spring menu additions that include various side dishes and premium mains. Proceedings commenced with the Polpette Bolognese, meatballs cooked in bolognese sauce served with the restaurant’s famous aforementioned dough balls for dipping in the rich sauce.
Next up was some delicious sides, my hands-down favourite dish was the Stuffed Eggplant, bite size rolled strips of baked eggplant stuffed with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan and topped with pomodoro sauce. The oven Roasted Cauliflower finished with lemon garlic sauce was a little al dente for me and not nearly as good as the ‘special’ dough balls rolled and baked with parmesan that we obviously smothered in garlic butter and polished off in record time.
At this stage, it’s fair to say we were already rather full but we had only just begun. I’m strictly a leggera pizza kinda girl, a lighter (leggera is Italian for lighter) option with fewer calories, so went out of my comfort zone with the new Lava pizza. Torn creamy burrata cheese and basil sit atop baked pizza base topped with olives, cherry tomatoes and chilli oil. It was tasty and different but then I’m a fan of burrata but the teenager is not preferring her usual mozzarella option instead. The crunchy Kale Salad with red-orange segments, toasted walnuts and red onion tossed with a honey mustard dressing and shaved Parmesan was a hit, a healthier option to offset all those dough balls.
Pizza Express is ‘shellbrating’ Spring in style with the addition of its more indulgent Aragosta (Italian for lobster) dishes. The Aragosta Reale is a thin and crispy Romana pizza topped with lobster meat, vegetables, buffalo mozzarella and lobster bisque sauce and finished with torn buffalo mozzarella, créme fraiche and more surprisingly black caviar. Surprised to hear that lobster and caviar are on the menu at Pizza Express? I was, theses are ingredients I usually associate with fine not casual dining. Another crustacean-inspired dish features on the pasta menu, the Tagliatelle Aragosta combines tagliatelle with lobster meat, vegetables and red chilli in a lobster bisque sauce, again topped with black caviar and fresh lemon.
Sensing our need for a break our desserts were held back while we took a moment to digest and enjoy the live music, the teenager sipped on her Green Giant refresher, a blended combination of green grapes and apple with sweet melon. Three desserts soon arrived, the Bombolini, soft oven baked chunks of dough (much like churros), tossed in cinnamon sugar and serve with a rich chocolate and espresso sauce. The baked oat based HoneyComb Cheesecake was finished with caramel frosting and topped with delicious chunks of chocolate covered honeycomb served with raspberry coulis. The final sweet treat was a light crispy sautéed cinnamon apple Filo Pastry Parcel, a modern take on a traditional apple pie, served with homemade gelato and blonde caramel sauce.
PizzaExpress has its place in people’s hearts, it’s a great spot for families or dinner with friends. You are always guaranteed a warm welcome and the trademark open kitchen, which is home to the Pizzaiolos (the monochrome striped clad chefs), is a theatre of dough spinning tricks. This winning combination of food, art and music is tried and tested worldwide, the licensed Abu Dhabi jazz concept is only the third of its kind worldwide, along with the original Soho venue in London and the one located in neighbouring Dubai.
This British high street favourite contains to offer consistent simple freshly made Italian-inspired classics complimented by a full bar and live music every night of the week, it’s also extremely affordable which is always a bonus. Branch out of your comfort zone this season with the new lobster dishes paired with a glass or two of prosecco, as always I thoroughly recommend leaving room for desserts.
Jazz@PizzaExpress Abu Dhabi
Location: 5th Floor, The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 444 7752
See the full Jazz@PizzaExpress Abu Dhabi menu here
I was invited to review the Pizza Express Spring Menu. All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated all photos on this page copyright Jo Brett 2017. All rights reserved. Three additional photos used courtesy of www.pizzaexpressuae.com