IN ONE OF THE CITY'S MOST HISTORIC STREETS
The buildings in the upper end of Albion Place have been a vital part of the commercial, cultural and spiritual life of the city over the last 200 years. You have only to read the numerous blue plaques on their exteriors and it reads like a potted history of Leeds.
Now this street, once home to prestigious organizations such as The Leeds Law Society, The Leeds Club and the Church Institute is fast gaining a new title, that of restaurant alley.
One of the restaurants to occupy one of these listed buildings is Pizza Express who have skillfully transformed their building, without losing any of its character or charm and preserving its imposing outside appearance. Yet step inside through the historic portals and the decor is bright, fresh and pleasingly modern in a very sophisticated way.
Although when we visited, it was cold outside the warm welcome we received from the staff was more than pleasing.
The menu at Pizza Express is excellent and has so much more than is offered at your average restaurant chain and has a plethora of choices for every taste, diet and appetite. There are pizzas for those watching their calories, vegan, vegetarian and Gluten-free choices
To warm me, after experiencing near arctic temperatures outside, I plumped for the Roasted Tomato Soup and my choice couldn’t have been better. The soup arrived piping hot and was so much more than your average tomato soup. The flavour of the red peppers was not overbearing and the mascarpone gave it a smooth taste. The soup was served with crispy croutons and pesto and fresh basil.
My colleague opted for the Calamari. She found the batter was crispy and the Calamari itself was cooked well and not rubbery as it often can be. She particularly loved the exclusive Caesar dressing which had a delicious twist to it.
I will admit I always find it difficult to find a pizza that has toppings that I will like and usually have to opt for a Margherita to be on the safe side. But to my delight the Romana pizza list had three specials on it which absolutely suited my tastes.
I chose the Maple Glaze Gammon. The pizza base was thinner and crispier too which I prefer. The topping of the glazed gammon, goats cheese, spiced apricot chutney, tomato and mozzarella was my dream of topping for a pizza. The toppings blended so well the sweetness of the gammon being complimented by the strong taste of the goats cheese.
My colleague was calorie watching so she chose from the Leggera section and ordered the Leggera Padana, a vegetarian option, with goats cheese, spinach, red onion and caramelised onion,tomato and garlic oil. Leggera is the ideal choice for those who are watching their waistlines or looking for something lighter and come beautifully presented. Basically it’s a classic size ring of Roman dough with a hole in the middle which is filled with salad and a light house dressing.
My colleague found this “totally amazing” both in flavour, taste and certainly in presentation and the size of the dish was more than ample.
When it came to “puds” being on a calorie watch my colleague opted for the Dolcetti or mini desert which is served with a coffee or a liqueur coffee. Her Salted Caramel Profiteroles filled with a Salted Caramel Cream were served so appealingly presented in a tea-cup and the portion was ample.
Still on caramel I opted for the Caramel and Pear Gelato which was a real heaven on a plate. I particularly loved the salted caramel sauce which wasn’t too sweet or sticky and the pieces of real pear which added to the dish.
The Pizza Express in Albion Street is not just another fast food chain restaurant. The menu is varied and the service excellent. It’s the kind of restaurant that will suit any occasion and any mood. Perfect beyond a shopping trip, great for business or gossipy girlie lunches. The swift service makes it a favourite for pre-theatre or concert meals or after work catch ups whilst later it can make a great setting for a celebration meal.
Pizza Express, 4 Albion Street, Tel: 0113 2422131. Open seven days a week 11.00 – 22.00