Christmas pizzas: do they work?


Yo ho sodding ho.

It’s a month to Christmas and that can mean only one thing.
That we’ll be bashed about our hungover heads with tinsel, ghastly Slade songs, mawkish television advertisements featuring bouncing pets, part-time drunks lurching through our favourite bars and restaurants offering what they will describe as festive fayre.

In a spirit of fearless investigation, I paid my first visit to Moseley’s new Pizza Express and sampled the chain’s Christmas pizzas.

Porchetta Natale

On an admirably thin and crisp pizza base lay chunks of pulled hog roast, stuffing, strips of lacklustre pancetta, gooey mozzarella, tomato, rosemary, garlic and pinenuts.
Despite the Italian flourishes, this had all the old-fashioned delights of a hot pork bap made with warmed through leftover pork on Boxing Day.
It was highly enjoyable and very satisfying, though shards of impeccably crisp pork crackling would have worked better than limp pancetta.

Cauliflower Cheese

The inevitable nod to vegetarians who, even at Christmas,on meat-free scoff.
Roasted cauli came a cheese and mustard sauce, pecorino, pink onions, garlic, pinenuts, parsley and Gran Milano cheese.
It looked rather bland and, sadly, tasted that way.
There was a need for more colour, texture and spikey flavours to rescue this oddity.

Roasted tomatoes

Though there are festive starters, we started our meal with a standard from the main menu – a bowl of roasted tomatoes to nibble.
These were a delight – soft, sweet, with a perky hint of acidity from, I think, vinegar added during the cooking process and a lovely fragrant backdrop of thyme.
Christmas desserts proved beyond our dainty appetites.

The place

We residents of achingly trendy MoHo despise the influx of chains into the area.
But for Pizza Express I will make an exception: the food is reliable, generally flavoursome and the restaurants are admirably family-friendly.
Prices are reasonable – we paid under £40 for two, with a decent bottle of Sicilian merlot.
The new Moseley branch is a bright contemporary space with warm colours, comfortable seats, spacious tables, delightful staff and good music.
It is a place to which I will return.

Pizza Express
3a Alcester Rd, Moseley B13 8DD. 0121 449 3111.

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