I f*cking hate Pizza Express. You may have already figured that out from the title. Most of my friends or people I tell don't get it and I think they're insane. It's insipid, their food is bland, really expensive, the portions are tiny, and they're overtaking everything at a Starbucks speed (Which I don't like that much but as much as I hate Pizza Express).
It's not that surprising given their size they can keep throwing 241 vouchers at all the affiliate sites possible and imaginable so people keep coming. Incentives and e-marketing 101. But then again, nothing wrong with that I guess.
Apart from the fact that I've been in a bit of an angry mood lately, I've just learned Pizza Express launched a ridiculous new product lately and it's as good an opportunity as any to share my distaste for the brand. I'm sure the 241 afficionados will be soon be all over it like a rash: The leggera pizza (it means light in Italian, call it a diet pizza). A pizza with a hole in the middle and salad in the hole. So like half a pizza.
Eat a salad if you're worrying about your diet. The worst thing is this kind of minute segmentation will probably work; specially created for the diet conscious who want to look good in front of their friends, feel good about themselves and can't make up their minds on whether to have a pizza or a salad. Now they can have both. I'm so relieved.
Curious, I checked the menu found out a classic Margherita costs £5.90. A light Margherita costs £7.95. I guess the fresh tomatoes in the latter are perhaps more expensive..? Still outrageous. Otherwise, the rest of their pizzas cost a fortune, ridiculousy overpriced.
Their ice cream isn't very good either. I don't understand how so many people love it. Apparently they have over 13,000 fans on their Facebook page. But I'm not one for random hate and I'm glad a good reason for you to boycott Pizza Express if you're up for it. Check out this Facebook group about Pizza Express employees.
Now there are problems with managing tips for the whole restaurant industry but still: Pizza Express takes 8% from whatever the service charge is for admin fees. Service charge in the UK is not obligatory, customers don't have to pay it, but usually do with the understanding that this money is tips for the staff. That's rarely the case and here a good example of Pizza Express taking money from their low paid employees.
Pizza Express employees protested against this in 2007 and a restaurant manager who supported the employees claims got sacked.
I'm also glad I found a few other people who don't like it, such as Pete Cashmore from 'Une Annee sans Pizza', the blog of a pizza lover who didn't eat any for a whole year.
And it's not just Pizza Express, it's every single standardised eatery and baverage chains. All the same lame decorations, overpriced offering, same bland flavours, paint by numbers school of cooking, etc. It's all killing the small restaurants and originality.
To finish on a positive note, because I'm not all hatred, I absolutely love good pizza. For some really good pizza and Italian food check out these places in London:
- Bar Italia in Soho, a London institution open since 1949. If you haven't tried their pizzas yet, have one. They're not the best in the world but very good and beat a Pizza Express any time.
- Ripe Tomato, close to Portobello Road.
- Centonove, on Westbourne Park Road.
Rant done. One day I may talk about Fire & Stone, possibly the only pizza place I hate more than Pizza Express ;) Have a great weekend.
PS: You probably noticed, but no link love for Pizza Express.
May 2015 update: For some reason this post seems to be garnering some comments in recent months so I'll reiterate a comment I wrote below. Feedback from a few employees are saying the service charge is split up fairly, if it's the case I'm glad for the employees. Otherwise it's a pretty old post, I don't hold passionate opinions about Pizza Express one way or another aside from appreciating the success from a business perspective perhaps. I don't eat there, nor do I particularly think about it unless someone comments here.