Jack: The nice people at Pizza Express invited Greta & I to come down and try the new Spring & Summer Menu for 2014. This year they’re again going with a lot of lighter, lower calorie dishes, presumably to help people prepare themselves for the ‘beach body’ look (not the ‘beached whale’ look). There are also some gluten free options in there too.
Very nice of them eh?
So, all of dishes below a certain amount of calories are listed on the menu and fall under their Leggera category. Not all of them fall into this category, however. I realised this later, after accidentally ordering the new Emilia Romana pizza, which was very…not low calorie. But it was both delicious and a new addition to the menu so whatever…
Anyway, here’s what we tried:
The (new) Food
The Leggera Salmon Salad
This one costs more than you might expect for a salad, but realistically, it’s a main course itself. This is actually the kind of food I try to make for myself, meat/fish and veg – so nutritionally I’d like to think it’s a good choice! (would you like some confirmation bias with your dinner?)
There’s a pretty generous portion of smoky peppered salmon for your protein, hiding amongst a base of mixed leaves, parsley, cucumber and the like. I think they used an underripe avocado, as the avocado was essentially devoid of the delicious richness it should have.
Occasionally your fork/tongue will turn up sweet and citrussy slivers of onion, which contrast wonderfully with the fish and more neutral leafy flavours. I feel there could have been more variety in the leafy base, maybe more strong rocket flavours to break up the greens, which were quite samey.
Greta: As a starter I decided to go for the ‘Risotto Fresco’ , which was soft and creamy with oak-roasted salmon fillet, complimented by the contrasting dash of pepper and lemon zest.
Jack: The rich base of goats cheese underpins the mushrooms and rocket, which is interspersed with yet more cheese. This allows your tongue to play ‘compare and contrast the cheese flavours’ when you take a large bite that gets the lot in one go.
There’s that wonderful contrast between the crispy pizza base, which has just a hint of softness imparted by the truffle oil. This fully contrasts and the softer, more yielding upper layer, and finally with the layer of dryer rocket, which is trying to escape the top. You get each layer if you bite carefully.
And if you wrap the pizza slice around you get that layered taste, but doubled. This is probably not the most elegant way to eat your pizza, but people who make the effort to judge how you eat your pizza probably need to work on their life priorities.
Greta: For the main my choice was the fiery ‘Pollo Forza Romana’ pizza, super hot and bursting with flavour, so if you’re a spice enthusiast I suggest you dig in! The hint of parsley lifted the heavier tones, and the chilli oil gave a rich smoothness to the texture.
The Leggera Sorbet
After what was an unexpectedly huge starter and similarly unexpectedly filling main course, I opted for the tiny dessert.
This one seems like something suited to sitting outside in the summer, or to be used as a palette cleanser in between courses. The little chocolate straw is ideal for rearranging the texture of the sorbet before it melts. Quite refreshing after two ample courses. A bit like getting a message after trying to kill your body in the gym.
There are the occasionally crunchy flavours of citrus (I think this is lemon curd). If you don’t eat this dish fast, it melts downwards so that you get a pool of fluid at the bottom.
Greta: And for my dessert it was the ‘Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta’, a subtle and sweet delight to calm the taste buds after the fiery pizza. It was the soothing creaminess and the fresh coolness that really did the trick. The mint leaf and strawberry a charming touch of summer scents and colours.