Since the fire last March that gutted a large section of Albert Street forced the closure of Pizza Express in Harrogate there has been a large “Dough Ball” shaped hole in my daughters life. She is six years old and I think it is fair to say that she is Pizza Express’ number one fan!
Understandably she was absolutely delighted to be invited in to the brand new restaurant which re-opened earlier this month. We visited on a busy Sunday tea time at 5pm, and whilst the place was pretty full, the new décor and dividing wall in the middle of the restaurant somehow seem to make the place feel much more relaxed and a lot less noisy then it used to.
It feels lovely and modern, slightly cosier than it was before. The doors have changed (no more awkward revolving door; an absolute menace to toddlers fingers and pushchair users alike) The lights, chairs, dark mirrored walls and layout are all new and very smart, but equally it is unmistakably and reassuringly familiar as Pizza Express.
The staff that we encountered were all polite, efficient and well-used to dealing with children. My daughters (6 and 3 years) were served their drinks quickly (and in plastic glasses with straws without me having to ask) and were given their menu’s and coloured pencils straight away (the menus double up as activity books). The waiter also had the foresight to quickly whip away the surplus glass tumblers and wine glasses from the table. This may sound like such a minor detail, but the parent of any pre-schooler will know that if you leave them on the table then you may as well get the dustpan and brush out because it’s only a matter of time!
Both of my daughters chose from the “Piccolo” menu, which for 3 courses and a Bambinoccio is £6.50, I think is excellent value for money. The menu consists of dough balls for starters, then either a pasta or pizza main course with either ice-cream sundae or a chocolate brownie dessert.
Despite it being a busy Sunday, there was barely any wait for the food and the starters were quickly followed by our mains. My husband chose an old classic, the Fiorentina pizza and I chose one of the new dishes, The Calzone. Both were utterly delicious and were soon demolished!
Once the children had finished their pizzas, our waiter was on-hand to offer their deserts. As ever, my daughters were delighted when their Bambinoccino’s arrived (A Bambinoccino is a small “grown-up” cup of warm frothy milk with a sprinkling of chocolate powder on top)
One of the best things about Pizza Express is that they understand that when you’ve got young children, when you are done and dusted with the meal, you just want to get out of there quickly. With pre-schoolers there is no lazy lingering over coffee, once they’re finished they’re bored and if you hang around too long, that is when the major destruction begins! Our waiter knew the score and was quick to get our table cleared and allowed us a speedy exit.
My whole family is delighted that Pizza Express has re-opened and I’m sure that it wont be long before we return!
Disclosure: Pizza Express did provide us with a free meal for the purposes of this review. The opinion I’ve expressed here is my own.