Thursday, 21 June 2018

Pizza Express Review in Brighton


I was recently invited to attend the Brighton branch (Jubilee Street) of Pizza Express in collaboration with Mumsnet to review their new limited edition Piccolo Story Explorer activity pack and experience their local caricaturist in partnership with Puffin Books. Our task was to sample the full Pizza Express experience including caricaturist activity, activity pack and the Piccolo menu choices.


I should start by stating that I am always honest in my reviews and feel bloggers should be completely authentic in how they describe their experience. I also only accept reviews that I would usually experience or purchase usually. I’ve eaten at Pizza Express numerous times over the years and a previous blogger event at Pizza Express in London involved making a pizza from scratch at one of their first ever vegan pizza parties. For that event, everything was incredibly well organised, the vegan pizza was absolutely delicious and the staff were so attentive . The whole experience was amazing and in that post I mentioned that it was one of the best blogger events I had attended. In comparison, the meal at the Brighton branch was a disappointing experience: Here’s why:

We arrived at the restaurant during lunch hours and were quickly seated at our reserved table. It was a busy time during half-term and I noticed lots of other bloggers in the restaurant, also carrying out reviews. We were given menus and I told the waiter that I was here to carry out the review including the caricaturist experience. He told me he has no idea and it was his first day working there. Later, the manager came over to our table and I mentioned I was carrying out the review in collaboration with Mumsnet. She seemed impressed with the Mumsnet bit and was welcoming & friendly, to begin with at least. At this point the caricaturist artist was on the next table. She mentioned that he was hopping over from table to table, draws amazing caricatures of the children and would be at ours next. We were looking forward to it! The two children (Pip and his friend) received their activity packs which included colouring pencils, stickers and a hat and we ordered our starters.



We opted for the calamari, olives and sundried tomatoes for the adults and the dough balls from the Piccolo menu for the kids. Our starters took about 20 minutes to arrive and we all loved the food. The children finished their dough balls and the side salad that came with it. So far, so good. At this point the restaurant was incredibly busy and it was difficult to get attention from any of the waiters to order our main course. Once we finally did, we looked forward to our main courses. Then we waited, and waited and waited. After about 45 minutes, with no sign of the caricaturist or of our main courses arriving we wanted to ask a waiter if our food was coming anytime soon. Again, the restaurant was busy with waiters whizzing by and it was difficult to get someone’s attention despite looking at them constantly. Everyone seemed in a bit of disarray and rushed off their feet. When a waiter finally came to our table, we were told that she would check our order but didn’t return! I finally got the attention of the manager who said she would check and later returned to say our food would be ‘coming soon’. Yet no apology was given.




The kids, two five-year-olds, were tired and restless at this point. Despite asking, it took another 20 minutes for the food to arrive, so over an hour in total. However, not all the food arrived at the same time. Only one of the children’s pizza’s arrived because the other ‘dropped on the floor en route form the kitchen!’ So despite waiting over an hour, only one pizza arrived for two children and was cut in two with each child getting a half. Another pizza arrived about 10 minutes later. The manager did apologise for the wait at this point but gave no reason. Actually I don’t think she knew how long we had been waiting. I think they had either forgotten our order or lost our order along the way! At this point, I also asked where the caricaturist was as I couldn’t see him in the restaurant. The manager said he had already gone home because she had just hired him for a short time and as non-reviewing customers were also asking him to draw caricatures, he did not have time to reach every table! So despite being there in order to carry out a review – something I made very clear to several members of the staff– no-one made an effort to send the caricaturist to our table. The whole arrangement seemed very disorganised. And waiting over an hour for food with two small children just makes everyone a bit grumpy! It wasn’t a relaxing experience at all.



The food was nice though as it always is at Pizza Express. Both of the children loved their pizzas and we loved ours. I had the Margherita Bufala with a Romanabase and my friend, the Vegan Giardiniera. They were delicious and we didn’t leave a crumb. We also had Prosecco with our meal and it was all very nice. Regarding the taste of the food, there is nothing I can fault. After finishing we ordered the desserts straight away and they came shortly afterwards, no long wait like the main course. The kids both opted for the Piccolo Sundae which includes a big scoop of vanilla gelato, finished with chocolate or fruit sauce, topped with a baby cone. Strawberries are also served on the side along with a bambinoccino. Their dessert looked fabulous and both the kids loved it!



In terms of price, the Piccolo menu costs £6.95 per child and includes a starter of dough balls, a main course (pizza, pasta, or salad), a dessert and a bambinoccino. Soft drinks are £1.50 extra. I thought this was ok in value. You can find cheaper kids meals elsewhere and I did think the soft drink should be included in the price. The children’s pizza was also pretty small. The Margherita Bufala pizza costs £14 which I thought was too expensive. It was delicious, of course, but so are many other pizzas in Brighton for under £10. For example, Franco Manca is just around the corner and pizzas start at just £5! The pizzas are big, tasty and service is always quick and efficient. So why are Pizza Express charging so much more? As we were there to carry out a review, all of the food was complementary. However, with 2 adults and 2 children, our bill totalled more than £80! If I had this experience normally and was paying the full price I would have complained to the manager and probably expected some kind of discount or refund, given the long wait.



As the end I asked the manager why the food had taken so long to arrive and was told ‘there was an issue with your table. Sorry about that!’ No further elaboration was given. Of course, waiting over an hour for food is not the end of the world. But with two small children and a bill totalling £80+ it was a disappointment. Would I visit Brighton Pizza Express again? I’m not sure. I do love dough balls (who doesn’t?!!) and their range of pizzas but the long wait and service let us down this time. There are plenty of other pizza venues in Brighton and I have to say I have never had to wait for such a long time as any of the others. I know there were many bloggers in the restaurant that day who had a wonderful enjoyable experience and left with a lovely caricature and didn’t have the delays we did. For us though, although the food was nice, our overall experience was disappointing.

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This is a collaborative post with Mumsnet. All words and opinions are my own. Mumsnet did contact Pizza Express with my initial feedback but they have yet to respond. 

Have you been to Pizza Express recently? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts ☺
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25 comments

  1. Sounds like a bit of a mixed bag! The food looks lovely - but there's no point in having delicious food if you're too deluged in fractious children to enjoy it.

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    1. Yes, that's it. It needs a relaxing environment too. Thanks x

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  2. We love Pizza Express and the one here in Belfast has always been really good - even with the kids. It's just a shame you guys had a mixed experience! There's nothing worse than food taking too long when you have children with you!

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    1. It's true, the wait always feels like double/triple the time with children. Glad you had a better experience in Belfast!

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  3. The food looks nice, especially the pudding. But waiting over an hour for your main meal is too long, especially when you have young children. They sound like they had a few new staff and didn't really know what they were doing, hopefully they will improve with experience.

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    1. It really was too long. Yes, hopefully a better experience next time. Thanks x

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  4. Our local can sometimes be hit and miss with timings, but I do love their food!

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    1. It's a shame because the food was delicious! :)

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  5. Oh no. That's such a shame you had this experience. We had a totally different experience, but this very well may have been because we arrived just before the lunchtime rush. They should have been able to manage it - it's not like they're new to the area. Very disappointing as Pizza Express are often so good!

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    1. That is so true! They must have busy periods every weekend so no excuse really. Glad you had a better experience!

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  6. Love Pizza Express the healthy veggie one I get and it is so nice too.

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  7. What a shame that it was so slow. I can usually handle slow service if the staff are apologetic but it’s hard not to be a bit miffed when they aren’t. I’m not sure Dil would’ve sat for so long without food! We do love Pizza Express usually though, it’s always been so good for food allergies!

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    1. It really is so tedious to wait over an hour with two kids in tow. I agree though, great for food allergies x

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  8. I can't believe you were waiting so long for your food, I've never had to wait in Pizza Express but I haven't been there in quite a while x

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    1. Thanks Rhian. Yes, it was odd. I don't think we have ever had to wait that long anywhere before x

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  9. Pizza Express is a go to in our house. It’s a place where we know there is something for everyone! It’s so child friendly and reasonably priced too! Great review x

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  10. Your experience seems unusual, as what I love about Pizza Express, is that the food & service are consistent, and you know what you are getting x'

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  11. That's such a shame, the concept of the experience sounded really fun and Pizza Express always have great food but you're right, a wait that long is just not acceptable, especially without any updates. Let's hope your next visit ends on a more positive note.

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    1. Thanks Carolin! It had the potential for being wonderful but somehow went wrong along the way. Hopefully a better experience next time :) x

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  12. We love Pizza Express and you really can't beat it for a family meal - the children's menu is fantastic x

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  13. Oh wow over an hour wait?! That's a shame! We stopped going to a restaurant nearby to us because the wait was roughly the same! It wasn't great with kids to wait that long!
    Such a shame, but the food does look yummy!

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    1. Over an hour is so long isn't it! In contrast, we went to a different restaurant the other day that served the food about 5 minutes after ordering. It was so quick! :)

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  14. We were in Pizza Express recently and really enjoyed it. They're really good with kids too, which is always a bonus.

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  15. I'd be so irritated I'm surprised and impressed by your patience! love their pizza but agree it's pricy and always seems to be crazy busy

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    1. Ha, thanks! There wasn't much we could do really, except wait and then write this review :) Hopefully the service will improve x

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