Dining Al Fresco at Piccadilly Gardens Pizza Express
B and I were kindly invited along to dine at Pizza Express in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. Now, I've been to plenty of Pizza Express joints before (the St Andrews branch was frequently visited while I was at university) but none have been quite like this! We chose to sit outdoors and dine al fresco on this occasion, the warm Manchester breeze was too tempting to miss out on, not to mention the beautiful view. The restaurant is set just at the edge of Piccadilly Gardens, right across from the Manchester Eye. On a sunny day like this it was easy to forget we were in the city at all.
After settling in our seats, we were promptly attended to by the super friendly waiter (hilariously tried to photobomb our olive money shot!!) who sorted out a lovely glass of rose and some of the yummy new Olives Marinate, which have pink peppercorns (which I avoided because I don't like the feeling of crunching into peppercorns!) in the marinate. Armed with snacks and drinks, we got well and truly stuck into the summer menu.
A sucker for a good bruschetta, I opted for the Bruschetta Originale for my starter, as did B. It swayed from the typical crunchy bread you tend to get, and instead had a delicious, warm, doughy loaf with delicious traditional toppings.
The sun was starting to hide away behind the clouds once we'd conquered our starters - it was lovely to admire the beautiful scenery whilst sipping on wine and awaiting our main course.
Of course, a trip to Pizza Express would not be complete without a pizza! I'm usually one to opt for something from the Al Forno choices, but I decided to go for pizza this time. Wanting to try something a little different I chose the Emilia, a brand new edition to the menu, featuring mushrooms, goats cheese, mozzarella and best of all...black truffle oil. Yum, yum! It had a very earthy taste, definitely different from tomato based pizzas, but non-the-less delicious!
As a side we were recommended the polenta chips. I've never had polenta before, as far as I can remember, although I do recall my nonna mentioning it. The chips had an interesting taste, not unpleasant, but not something I can quite put my finger on either. The honey and mustard dressing they came with made them a delicious tangy accompaniment to my earthy pizza.
B was a somewhat typical guy and went for the Diavolo. Considering it translates as Devil in Italian, you can imagine what this pizza is like - spice on top of meat, on top of spice, on top of meat...
The main event, for me, will always be the dessert! Life is all about pudding. I am obsessed with vanilla flavoured things. Most people see vanilla as a very plain flavour, but it's something I just can't get enough of - it's sweet, creamy, aromatic, heady and lingering. Naturally, when I saw that one of the new dessert offerings was a vanilla panna cotta, my decision was instantly made. I wasn't disappointed either, it was deliciously creamy and with a lovely strong taste of vanilla running throughout. Plus, I'm sure you'll agree it looks gorgeous - just feat your eyes on the speckles of fresh vanilla bean!
B went for the tiramisu, being a coffee lover. He gives it the thumbs up (I'm not a huge coffee fan so I didn't try it) and I trust his judgement, so I reckon it was pretty good! It certainly looked delicious.
After devouring our puddings, with very full bellies we sat out on the front enjoying the last of the sunlight over the gardens and people watching to our hearts content.
We'd like to say a huge thanks to PizzaExpress for inviting us and to the brilliant staff who really made our visit a pleasant one, we were properly looked after!
Are you a pizza, or Italian food fan? What would your ideal pizza look like?
I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog // firstname.lastname@example.org