Forget Franco Manca and Pizza Pilgrims – two real* pizza titans are going head-to-head right now, in a battle to dominate central London. In the blue corner: Pizza Express, who’ve just opened their first ever flagship restaurant on Charing Cross Road. And in the red corner: Pizza Hut, who’ve given their Strand restaurant a mega makeover. But which chain restaurant will come out on top?
Pizza Express food is arguably always better than Pizza Hut’s (unless you’re a fan of a meaty crust). BUT, the Hut team have just introduced Kentucky chicken wings to the menu and, despite the restaurant’s classtastic makeover, have decided to keep both the legendary Ice Cream Factory and the unlimited salad station in situ. Choo-choo – we’re chugging on down to coleslaw town.
The mighty Hut is going all-out with a new menu of hard shakes and cocktails. They’ve even hired a load of cocktail experts to ‘show diners the history and “theatre” of cocktail making’. Fancy! Meanwhile. the centre-point of the Express restaurant is also a swanky cocktail bar, which they describe as ‘the very best in restaurant design’. We’re excited to get drunk and rowdy in both establishments, so let’s call this a draw.
From the look of Pizza Hut’s press photos, their new pad is pretty hipster-casual. We’re talking low-hanging lampshades, wooden walls and an Instagram-friendly ‘The hut is made for sharing’ wall inscription. #truth. #fromtheheart. It’s a good try, but it’s no Grade II-listed former pub, babes. The new Express nest on the other hand, can be found in the ‘glamorous’ former Crown Pub, opened in 1890. The restaurant has the timber-top tables and ambient lighting of a Hackney Wick warehouse dream. There’s even a nod to Leicester Square’s famous cinemas with ‘fun’ illuminated cinema boards on the restaurant walls. ‘Shaken, not stirred’ sits above the bar and ‘I’ll be back’ is positioned by the exit. God, they’re clever.
Bella Italia. Only joking, you should probably go try all of London’s pizza restaurants out and eat yourself into a mozzarella frenzy.