Pizza Express, Unit 1, Block H, Clarence Dock, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LU.
Unit 1, Block H, Clarence Dock, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LU.
Pizza Express is a chain of restaurants that mostly sells pizzas, along with some salads, pasta dishes and one dish type which is an unusual combination of salad and pizza - the pizza is a ring shape, in the centre of which is a salad. This location is in Clarence Dock in Leeds. The restaurant has some outside tables and chairs sheltered under the edge of the building's next story. It was visited on a Thursday evening.
Clarence Dock is a canal-side development in Leeds that includes the Royal Armouries as well as a hotel and residential apartments. Nearby parking is in the multi-story pay to park car park on the site. At the time of night that the restaurant was visited, with the exception of the Tesco Metro supermarket, the very few remaining shops are closed (many of the businesses that originally opened here have since permanently shut down), so there is very little passing traffic for the restaurant, although it does also sell take-away food which leads to some trade from the nearby apartments. Consequently, when the restaurant was entered it was not busy at all with only six diners present and it remained quiet throughout the entire visit, with the largest number of people being a party near the end of the visit that doubled the number of people present.
Each table had a pepper grinder and place settings laid consisting of paper serviettes, cutlery, wine glasses and small blue coloured water glasses. The restaurant's kitchen was visible from the restaurant. Upon entering, you are shown to a seat, and it has full table service.
The drinks ordered were a 500ml bottle of S. Pellegrino sparkling mineral water and a 330ml bottle of Coca-Cola served in a Coke-branded glass. Both being bottled were fine, although they could have done with being a bit cooler. The Coke was served with ice; the mineral water wasn't as no extra glass was provided.
The starter was Dough Balls Doppio, which is a sharing starter that is a double portion of the normal dough balls. There were a total of fifteen dough balls, of differing sizes, which were rather more flattened than spherical in shape. These were accompanied by three small dishes of dips, one of pesto, a sauce usually made from basil leaves and pine nuts as well as other ingredients, one of garlic butter and one of n'duja (also known as 'nduja), which is spicy softened sausage and olive oil. Interestingly the three dips were red (the n'duja), green (the pesto) and (almost) white (the garlic butter), which are the colours of the Italian flag. There was a decorative piece of flat leaf parsley on the garlic butter.
The dough balls were hot and fresh and the different dips had definite flavours to them. The n'duja in particular was rather different in taste.
The waiter asked if any flavoured oils were wanted with the main course, which were declined.
The first main course was a La Reine pizza. This was one of the Classic pizzas, which are a thin base, although it could also have been had on the thinner and crispy Romana base. The pizza was approximately 9" in diameter and was topped with prosciutto cotto ham, black olives and mushrooms.
Although the pizza base was soft enough to cut fairly easily, a sharper knife than the one provided would have been helpful.
The second main course was a Risotto Pollo Funghi, which is actually a starter, but it was ordered as a main course. This is a white wine risotto with chicken, pesto, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels, parsley and garlic, topped with rocket, Gran Moravia cheese (an Italian hard cheese) and pesto.
There was a lot of chicken and cheese in this dish; dishes where the main component is rice (or pasta) can be a bit mean with the actual meat, having rice comprise the majority of the dish.
The first dessert was a Cheesecake, which could be accompanied with cream, ice cream or mascarpone (a soft Italian cheese used in both sweet and savoury dishes). Vanilla ice cream was chosen and this appeared to have actual vanilla seeds in it. The dessert was decorated with a mint leaf and half a strawberry with the leaf still on, and had a drizzle of fruit coulis.
This was quite flavoursome and the vanilla ice cream certainly tasted genuine.
The second was a Chocolate Fudge Cake, which could also be accompanied with cream, ice cream or mascarpone, as well as being served either cold or warmed. This was ordered warm and with cream. The cake was also decorated with a mint leaf and half a strawberry with the leaf still on.
This was another nice dessert, served just warm enough.
The price of the meal came to £36.15 including drinks which was not an unreasonable price for two three course meals, even if the starter was a shared one and one of the main courses was actually a starter. New serviettes and cutlery were brought over before each course and the service was quick.
Pizza Express is more upmarket and serves a better quality of food than Pizza Hut, although it is not as good as a genuine Italian restaurant. This was an enjoyable meal with no downside; all the food was tasty and properly cooked.
Given the level of custom when the restaurant was visited and how little passing trade there is likely to be on an evening it does make it questionable as to how much longer this place will stay open, assuming that this was a typical night, before it shuts down like many of the other local shops and food places have. It is probably busier during the day, especially on weekends and during school holidays, when there is a chance of people visiting the Royal Armouries stopping for a meal. Whilst it is open, this branch is certainly recommended as a place to eat out.