Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pizza the Action

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pizza the Action

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jane Hall

Address: PizzaExpress, Dean Street, Newcastle

I loathe shopping at the best of times, but late night on a Thursday in Newcastle with number one son in tow as he needs new school shoes (and trousers, tops, coats...) is my idea of Hell.

Growing lads need their grub, and worn out with having his feet measured and being made to squeeze his Harold Hares into too many pairs of regulation black shoes that will do nothing for his eight-year-old street cred, John David's stomach began to join in the grumbling.

So with daddy, baby brother and myself trailing behind, off he marched down Grey and Dean Streets to PizzaExpress. He's got a good memory. It must be three years since we last ventured into this particular eaterie, but something about the food ( or ambience perhaps? ( of this more-upmarket-than-your-average-high-street-pizzeria, must have stuck in his brain.

It was only 5.30pm, but already the restaurant was filling up with couples and other families. With young Matthew settled in his high chair and drinks to hand ( a fresh orange juice for JD, a bottle of Peroni Nastro Azzurro for dad and a glass of well chilled, fruity Italian Sauvignon Blanc, Grigolli, for yours truly ( we studied the menu. Nibbling on small bowls of moreish roasted nuts and seeds with chilli, rosemary and rock salt; marinated olives and succulent roasted tomatoes with fresh herbs and olive oil, helped to focus our minds. I admit to never liking pizza. I regard them as one of the most over-rated foods. PizzaExpress's menu thankfully offers a comprehensive choice of other dishes with the traditional lasagne mingling with more exotic pasta recipes and an amazing selection of salads.

The newly-launched three course children's Piccolo menu is equally impressive and boasts it doesn't treat younger diners "like some kind of different species".

Having had a sneaky look at the desserts, I had decided to forgo a starter. As I fed "two-teeth" Matthew on a bowl of homemade but chewable pasta, JD waded into dough balls from the Piccolo options.

The four golden balls of dough with a small dish of tasty garlic butter for dipping, soon disappeared. Daddy meanwhile was tucking into bruschetta. Billed as freshly baked dough sticks, what arrived was a small half loaf piled with red onions, tomatoes, garlic, pesto and torn basil leaves. Whatever the shape, it was declared delicious, the basil pesto and tomato juices having infused the dough base.

On to the main courses. The two older men in my life had both opted for pizzas. JD's Margherita of tomato sauce topped with melted mozzarella and added pepperoni, had a thin, crispy base with an extremely generous topping. The four slices soon disappeared, as did his mini side salad of cucumber, peppers and juicy cherry tomatoes. …

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