Tuesday 22 April 2014

Pizza Express, Bolton

Pizza Express, Bolton
I have a secret love affair with Pizza Express in Bolton. I'm going to be honest with you - it has little to do with the restaurant itself, and was the main reason that I agreed to do a review when approached by their PR team.
Lord Lever

Let me tell you a story. When I was 14 I decided to become a history teacher. This one time dream would later fizzle out at the thought of a class of sixteen year olds; but was my dream until I was 21. 

I remember when the idea was born though. Our class went on a field trip to Lord Lever's Roynton estate in Rivington. The sun was shining, Kieran Morris nicked my neon orange Adidas coat, and the ballroom tiles gleamed through the mud and debris in the wreck of the second bungalow. I've been Lord Lever's number one fan ever since. 

Similarly to now, in 1914 Bolton was experiencing hard times. The cost of war meant that Bolton Council could not afford to buy the desired parklands they so wanted for the the residents of the borough to enjoy. In stepped Lord Lever. I won't bore you with the details, but needless to say without his philanthropic gestures, Bolton would be very different today. 
Cobbled Wood Street, Bolton
Cobbled Wood Street, Bolton
William Hesketh Lever was born on 19 September 1851 at 16 Wood Street, Bolton. In 1849 the Bolton Savings Bank had been built on the site of an old timber yard, just a few doors down from the Lever household, and still stands proud as the home of Pizza Express today. Forget the branches you find in city centres and shopping complexes, this is a building with class. Still a listed site, the beautiful floors remain, and the decor is sympathetic to the building's past glory.
Pizza Express, Bolton
We've eaten here many times in the past, as up until recently I worked in the town centre; it's been the site of many a leaving do, Christmas meal out or post-work nibble. As a general rule, I'm not a massive fan of pizza, but I have to admit to enjoying the ones on offer here.

We were greeted by a pleasant chap who offered us drinks and nibbles whilst we looked at the menu.

Roasted tomatoes: We picked these as neither of us are overly thrilled with olives. Unlike the sunblushed variety, these were actually quite tart.
Pizza Express, Bolton - roasted tomatoes
Bruschetta Originale "Pizza Express" - tomatoes, red onions, garlic, fresh basil and pesto: This was heavenly. A waft of fresh bread hit us as it was set on the table; the centre was soft and fluffy and the salad crisp and fresh.
Pizza Express, Bolton - bruschetta
Doughballs with garlic butter: They don't look much, but I cannot resist a decent dough ball. Once again, a nice crisp exterior with a fluffy middle. No faff.
Pizza Express, Bolton - doughballs
Pizza American on Romana thin base - Pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato: My husband's pizza of choice. Everything is cooked fresh to order, so you get it exactly how you want it too. He had polished the whole thing before I had eaten a quarter. I think that means he liked it.
Pizza Express, Bolton - American Pizza
Pizza Pollo ad Astra - Chicken, sweet peppadew peppers, cajun spices, garlic oil, red onions: I have this every time I go to Pizza Express. Plenty of toppings and a nice bit of fire in the peppers. My only criticism (and tis is true of all pizza establishments) is the lack of a decent knife. They are too big to pick up as slices, and the blunt knives are more likely to injure me than cut pizza.
Pizza Express, Bolton - Pollo ad Astra Pizza
Banoffee pie and ice cream - banana, toffee, cream and crumbly biscuit: I'm always doubtful of desserts served in chain restaurants. Whilst I'm sure these are not home made, they were much better quality than the 'fresh (from the freezer)' types sold elsewhere. My husband ate it all anyway!
Pizza Express, Bolton - Banoffee Pie
Summer pudding - summer fruit berries, served with fruit coulis and mascarpone: I found the bread in this a little too dense, but really enjoyed the sharp coulis and fresh mascarpone. 
Pizza Express, Bolton - Summer Pudding
Bolton is a struggling town. There is much more happening in its culinary world than this time two years ago, but much of that is going on in the outskirts of the town. Whilst the likes of Tiggi's and Pacha Mama have departed, Pizza Express has been there the whole time. Whilst I don't normally do reviews of this nature, I was eager to do this one because of the location, and the fact that Bolton needs all the help it can get at the moment.

It is what it is. Nothing fancy, but they are serving freshly cooked food at a decent price. Its location is as much of a selling point; a little oasis in a sea of pigeons.

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  1. Did you know Mr Lever used to sleep in the open air all weather even on the top of Rivington !

    1. I did indeed! And at Port Sunlight. And did you know a suffragette from Preston called Edith Rigby burned his first bungalow down...?


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