Jazz @ Pizza Express is an absolute must for team Out & About. A staple of the UK high street, Pizza Express reminds us of home. Offering not only great food at reasonable prices but a sense of familiarity — they’re literally on every street corner in London.
Pizza Express has gained global popularity for it’s fresh food, forgoing the deep dish American-style of pizza in favour of an authentically Italian experience. The kitchen at any Pizza Express revolves around the pizza oven, meaning no frying and absolutely no microwaves, just fresh food made to order and therefore fully customizable.
Beginning April 3rd, a new spring menu has launched at all Pizza Express locations in the Emirates, comprising of new dishes specially created for the UAE market. Having covered Abu Dhabi’s Jazz @ Pizza Express in previous reviews both here and here, we present 10 reasons why we think you should check-out the new menu.
1. The Drinks:
In a bid to be more health conscious, the spring menu offers three new beverages that focus on fresh fruits as opposed to sugary syrups or whipped cream. Served in glass mason jars, diners can select from a ginger fizz, an enhanced version of the traditional Arabic lemon and mint, as well as a strawberry concoction. Our favourite was the Green Giant Refresher, a mix of green grapes, green apple and sweet melon, that veers on just the right side of sweetness.
2. Dough Balls:
Ask anyone who has ever dined at aPizza Express what their favourite item is and it’s almost guaranteed they’ll answer “the dough balls.” This appetiser is synonymous with the brand and the light pillows of warm bread slathered in butter should not be missed. In the past these traditional dough balls have been served as a special (baked with Parmesan) and transformed into a dessert (served with Nutella). This versatility continues into the new menu with the Polpette Bolognese, in which the dough balls are served with meatballs and cooked in a rich and slightly spicy bolognese sauce, just perfect for dipping!
3. Salad For The Win:
Generally speaking, we’re not the biggest fans of salad but the Kale, Walnut & Citrus salad is very pleasing. Offering a plate of balanced flavours and contrasting textures that is more than just leaves. Kale is tossed with chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red onion and a honey mustard dressing, before being topped with toasted walnuts, chunky orange segments and shaved Parmesan. A healthier option and one that represents a meal in itself, showing there’s more to Pizza Express than just pizza and pastas.
4. Heroes & Sidekicks:
In the new menu, main courses are referred to as ‘super heroes’ and the sides as ‘sidekicks.’ This comic book theme runs through the napkins and staff uniforms also. Not usually ones to pair our pizza or pasta with anything (other than wine) the side dishes were a welcome addition to the table. Stuffed Eggplant parcels, roll aubergine around a mixture of mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, olives and Parmesan, before being topped with Pomodoro sauce and a sprinkling of fresh basil. It’s a good dish but perhaps a little too oily. The Oven Roasted Cauliflower on the other hand, is cooked with rosemary, cherry tomatoes and grated Parmesan and finished with a lemon and garlic sauce, from which the zesty lemon really shines through.
5. Burrata Pizza:
Regular readers of Out & About UAE will know that we’re obsessed with burrata. So to say we were more than a little excited to see that it’s been added to a pizza, would be a vast understatement. Sitting on top of an original Pizza Express base (which hasn’t changed since 1965) is torn burrata cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, a hint of chilli oil and fresh basil leaves. It’s doesn’t disappoint and although the Padana will always be our preferred choice at Pizza Express, this new pizza known as the Lava is a worthy edition to the menu.
6. Aragosta Reale:
Now you may be wondering about the seafood pun in the title of this post and it’s due to the signature pizza of this new menu, the Aragosta Reale. A pizza that adds lobster meat, baby broccoli, buffalo mozzarella, créme fraiche, black caviar, chives and lemon to a lobster bisque sauce. The base is a thinner Roma, inspired by the pizzas of Rome and aimed at the local UAE market where seafood is a very popular choice. It’s interesting to see high end ingredients such as lobster and caviar utilised within a more casual setting and it seems like a smart move from the Pizza Express team. Plus it tastes fantatic.
7. The Desserts:
Three new desserts accompany the new menu and although we may be a stickler for a classic tiramisu, we were enamored by the Bombolini, Pizza Express’ take on churros. Soft chunks of oven baked dough, sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar and served with a dipping sauce of dark chocolate and espresso. We also indulged in the gluten free Salted Caramel Hazelnut Terrine, layering a salted caramel ganache with hazelnut cream and a cocoa crumble. Meanewhile, lovers of apple pie won’t want to miss the Filo Apple Parcel containing sautéed cinnamon apple chunks, served with homemade gelato.
8. It’s Family Friendly:
One of the draws of dining at Pizza Express is that it’s very family friendly. Offering a varied menu of popular Italian inspired dishes and a separate menu for the little ones, anything ordered can be fully customized to suit specific dietary requirements. The team of young staff, ensure children are the priority and it’s more than just coloring and hats (though these are offered too), with children made the focus of the service. They’re also likely to enjoy the open kitchen where they can see their pizzas being prepared, including a lot of flaring! It’s refreshing to see the staff are friendly, engaging and fun while still maintaining the boundaries of professionalism. A shout out to George (pictured above) who took impeccable care our family during our recent meal.
9. The Venue:
The decor is a fusion of the traditional Arabic architecture of the mall itself (featuring Islamic-style stained glass windows), combined with the furnishings and tiled floors of an Italian trattoria. As this is a Jazz venue the walls are mounted with trumpets and saxophones in striking silver and gold colourations and a long bar runs down one side of the restaurant, making for an ideal licensed option that doesn’t include those pesky hotel taxes.
It wouldn’t be Jazz @ Pizza Express without the Jazz music and the Abu Dhabi branch is one of only three Jazz @ venues in the world (the others being in London’s Soho and Dubai). The live music begins from 7pm nightly and is a real draw, with the band providing a good mix of recent hints with a jazzy edge,
Pizza Express has maintained consistency in it’s food for more than half a decade and the newly launched menu is no different. Offering a variety of appealing new dishes specifically designed for the UAE market, while still maintaining the core focus of this global brand. It’s easy to see why Pizza Express has been pleasing diners at over 650 stores in 17 worldwide destinations for so long.
We were invited to dine at Jazz @ Pizza Express. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.