What happened to Pizza Express (U.K.)

I no longer live in the UK and was over last month for a visit. There was a Pizza Express across the street from my hotel, plus my daughter and I planned to visit one in Theatreland.

Both were disappointing. The pizza was way smaller than I remember, soggy on the bottom, not much flavour, barely any mushrooms and other toppings, not much cheese - you get the picture. They just don’t taste like they used to 40 years ago.

Just lamenting the passing of an old favourite. Any pizza recommendations for my next visit?

I’ve long been a fan of Pizza Express - right back to the times when they only had a handful of outlets. Always enjoyed one when visiting London - pizza hadnt really reached North Cheshire in those days. On one of those occasions, I had dinner with Brian May (Queen).

OK, when I say “had dinner with”, I mean he was on the other side of an almost empty restaurant.

But, I agree, they’re not what they used to be. Certainly a bit smaller. I think maybe a bit less toppings - but I’m not sure - I don’t like overloaded pizza, so remain happy. We had lunch at PE last week. It was fine.

I think any problems may relate to the recent change in ownership. The company has had a chequered history in that respect. It remained in private ownership from 1965 to 1993, when all the outlets were turned into franchises. But they were all bought out a couple of years later (and that was good move both for customers and the company as it re-introduced some consistency). Since 2014, it’s been owned by a Chinese group.

I too remember them fondly but at a recent visit to PE in a Hampshire town, my first in at least 20 years, the experience was outrageously bad. (Staff, food, service.) The highlight being a boiled pasta dish served burnt black in parts but cold. When this was brought to the attention of very inattentive waiting staff it was cheerily taken off the bill but without any concern that a meal had been spoiled.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold