With a lot of places doing Christmas showcases, it was refreshingly nice to see Pizza Express do a showcase on their Autumn menu. I know people may be sad to see the end of Summer, but Autumn has some of the best seasonal and festive foods! I was eager to see what Pizza Express would come up with to incorporate this and welcome Autumn into the year! There are several branches of Pizza Express within Greater Manchester with 6 in the city centre alone. On this occasion, I visited the Corn Exchange branch.*
Pizza Express interior
The interior inside the Corn Exchange is bright and clean despite being downstairs. The wood panelling along one side of the wall had some very interested cog artwork. The kitchen is open as with all Pizza Express branches, and white metro tiles adorn the counter.
The manager greeted everyone and spoke about each dish in the Autumn menu which we would be trying. This was both detailed and informative without being dry; I really looked forward to trying everything after!
Berry Mojito Royale
The Berry Mojito Royale utilises Tails Berry Mojito, which is a premixed bottle containing white rum, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda. Served over ice, prosecco is then added to this and topped with fresh mint to give you something that’s fruity, sweet and very easy to drink. If you love a strawberry daiquiri, you will love this!
Seedlip Garden 108
If you are wanting something non-alcoholic, Pizza Express is offering the Seedlip Garden 108 served with tonic water and fresh mint. Seedlip offer’s the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits with their Garden 108 containing peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, thyme. The drink is fairly bitter with floral and herbal notes. Gin and tonic drinkers will like this.
Roasted Tomatoes and Marinated Olives
Who doesn’t like nibbles whilst waiting for your actual food to arrive? The tomatoes are marinated in garlic and oregano whilst the olives are in garlic and pink peppercorns. These are part of their regular menu and deliciously moreish.
You normally get three of these when you order, but that is plenty as a starter. The risotto arancini are moist and the rice is cooked al dente so the rice had an actual bite to it, as opposed to being one homogenous ball. The rocket pesto complemented the flavour of the arancini. I would definitely recommend it.
The Campana contains crumbled pork & fennel sausage, friarielli (also known as rapini, a leafy vegetable), tomato, garlic oil and mozzarella, finished with Gran Milano cheese and parsley. The blend of ingredients is good and light; not greasy at all. Having said that, I didn’t find this pizza particularly notable, especially compared to the next slice of pizza I had.
The Caponata pizza is a vegetarian pizza with a topping of fried aubergine cooked with green olives, tomatoes, onion, capers, oil and vinegar with buffalo mozzarella and tomato, finished with Gran Milano cheese and fresh basil. The taste is similar to a bolognese, very meaty but obviously without the meat! Very warming and comforting, I can eat this one for days. Definitely my favourite from the Autumn menu!
Finally, the Giardiniera pizza contains artichoke, mushroom, red onion and black olives, with tomato, mozzarella alternative and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley. The vegetables on this are chunky, which I like; a good option if you like olives and artichokes.
Beef, porcini mushroom, tomato and red wine bolognese, with gluten-free rigatoni, finished with Gran Milano cheese and fresh basil. Hearty and flavoursome! If pizzas aren’t your thing, then this pasta is a good choice from their Autumn menu. Note you would normally get a large pasta bowl of this, but as this was an event, they provided samples in these small containers.
Broad Bean Rigatoni
Broad beans, spinach and vegetarian pecorino cheese in a white wine sauce, with gluten-free rigatoni, finished with Gran Milano cheese, pesto and fresh parsley. The sauce is really creamy and the vegetables aren’t overcooked. A good vegetarian pasta option! Note that as with the above rigatoni, you would normally get a larger portion if you order.
Sticky Toffee Bundt Cake
Served warm, this toffee sponge cake comes with a sticky toffee sauce and salted caramel ice cream, icing sugar and fresh mint. The portion size is pretty hefty, so I couldn’t actually finish this after eating my main and starter. The sponge is moist and sweet with the ice cream balancing the flavours. A good one to get if you like toffee and warm desserts!
Lotus Biscoff Cheesecake
The cheesecake consists a biscuit base, layered with Lotus Biscoff spread and cheesecake, finished with a Lotus Biscoff biscuit. The above show each cheesecake cut into half, to give you an idea of portion size. You get a small cup of tea or coffee with this also.The cheesecake itself is plain with the flavours mainly coming from the biscuit layer, spread and of course, the biscuit on top. It would have been nicer if the cheesecake layer was also spiced somewhat, or if the Biscoff spread was thicker.
Overall rating and comments
9.5/10, -0.5 for the prices. There are plenty of offers around, however, from different providers such as the NUS card for students or Tesco points or O2 mobile offers, so definitely hunt around. -0.5 for the Lotus Biscoff cheesecake as I felt the cheesecake layer could have also been spiced. The biscuit placed on top I realise is for effect, but I think this would have been better executed as a crumb with a swirl of some more Biscoff spread on top. Everything else was excellent and the staff at the Corn Exchange branch were really attentive. I went with Lacey from Laceyfitspo, who is vegan, and her dietary requirements were met quite well as they offer vegan cheese. As with any Pizza Express chain, you can ask to take the rest of your pizza home with you if you are unable to finish it. Less food waste is good in my books!
Would visit again?
Yes! Especially for the Caponata pizza!
There are several branches of Pizza Express, but below are the details for the Corn Exchange branch in Manchester, where this review is based on.
Address: The Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR
Do you like vegetarian pizzas? Have you been to a Pizza Express before?
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*I was invited to Pizza Express to try out their Autumn Specials and did not have to pay for my food at the event. This did not affect my opinion of the food or service.