Pizza Express, Unit CU6, Princes Quay Shopping Centre, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1 2PQ.
Unit CU6, Princes Quay Shopping Centre, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1 2PQ.
Pizza Express are a chain of Italian inspired pizza restaurants, a step up from places like Pizza Hut. This branch is located on the Harbour Deck of Princes Quay in Hull next to Nando's, overlooking the water to the east. The branch has two entrances. The first, exterior, entrance is beside the water that can be reached from the eastern lower deck exit from the shopping centre as well as from a bridge across the water that leads to various parts of Hull. This entrance also functions as the disabled access. The other is a spiral staircase from inside the centre itself. There are two levels to the restaurant, a small dining area by the exterior door but the majority of the seating is upstairs.
There is limited pay and display on street parking in the near vicinity and the shopping centre's own paid multi-story car park. Visitors to Pizza Express, as well as Nando's and the Vue Cinema, who arrive after 6PM get free parking in the shopping centre car park. You have to make a note of your car's registration number and give that to the staff before you leave the restaurant so that your car can be registered on the system and you can get out of the car park. The car park now does not use a ticket system, but instead recognises your car's numberplate and whether or not the fee has been paid to open the barrier.
The branch was visited on a weekday evening and was busy when entered, although this did die down as the evening progressed. When you enter, you wait to be taken to a table and seated. There are two different waiting areas, one from each entrance. It can be advisable to make your way to the one at the bottom of the spiral staircase, as the other seems to be out of the way.
There is, wrapped around the staircase, a central bar area where drinks are made and the tills are. Much of the kitchen is visible from the restaurant, so it is possible to watch your food being made. On the table are paper napkins and cutlery, water and wine glasses, a pepper grinder and a candle.
The drink was a 330 ml bottle of Coke Zero which was served with a Coke branded glass and was properly chilled.
The starter was Dough Balls Formaggi, which are Pizza Express's dough balls with Gran Moravia cheese. This was comprised of eight dough balls served on a plate on a paper napkin with a small dish of garlic butter. The dough balls looked like they had been dusted with cheese. The Gran Moravia cheese looked like it could have been inside the dough balls.
There was just barely enough butter for the amount of dough balls; a bit more would have been appreciated, so that it wouldn't have had to be carefully rationed.
The main course was the American Hot Classic Pizza, which had slices of pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato and a choice of hot green, roquito or jalapeno peppers, with jalapenos being the one chosen. It also had a light dusting of herbs, possibly oregano. The Classic pizza is an 11" pizza that dates back to 1965.
The pizza was made from a soft dough which cut quite easily with the knife used, the knife being a standard knife rather than a steak knife which is more usually provided with a pizza. The pizza was actually quite spicy; something that isn't always the case with a pizza or, indeed, anything else, that is described as hot on a menu.
The dessert was Vanilla Cheesecake, which is a New York style cheesecake served with a fruit coulis. It could be served with cream, ice cream or mascarpone; a scoop of ice cream was the accompaniment that was chosen.
This was served on a rectangular plate. The vanilla ice cream looked like it could be genuine vanilla, as it appeared to have vanilla seeds in it. There was also half a strawberry and the fruit coulis had been drizzled over everything. The cheesecake had a biscuit base and was quite creamy in texture.
The cost of the meal including the drink came to £21.40, which included an optional charitable donation of £0.25 applied to the American Hot for the Dallaglio Cycle Slam 2014. The service was a bit erratic, as four different people served the table, which gave the feeling that individual servers didn't know whether or not something had been done.
All the servers were polite, but they had a tendency of disappearing before completely checking to see if you needed anything else. Given the location of the table next to the window and beyond another table, there were never any servers actually passing it to ask for assistance.
A couple of the problems were that no cutlery was brought with the main course, but the server who brought the main course went before any could be requested. Fortunately, there was another set on the table. On another occasion, the server took the dessert dishes and again left before it was possible to ask for a bill. It eventually became necessary to go to the central area and ask for it in person, given that no-one had visited the table in over 20 minutes.
The food was nice, the price was not bad and the location was nice, but the only real let down was the service. Other than that, this branch of Pizza Express served a nice meal.