RestaurantsLondonNW8

survey result

Summary

£55
   ££
1
Poor
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Probably gradually getting worse, but you know what you are going to get… if you can work out the discount codes…” – this 56-year-old, high-street pizza chain still enjoys a high amount of lingering support from reporters, who haven’t quite given up on it yet. Once the UK’s ‘gold standard’ for chain dining, its performance in recent years has nose-dived, especially the ambience rating. Hony Capital (“the former Chinese private equity owners, who were ruining this once-great business”) have recently “exited with their tails between their legs” and it’s now in the hands of its debtors, who – during the pandemic – closed 73 restaurants with the loss of over 1,100 jobs. “Hopefully the new owners will return the chain to what it once was: first step should be to remove the extra tables which were crammed in making it an almost communal dining experience… always going to be disastrous given the number of kids ever present”. There’s hope, as in September 2021 the new team announced the refurb of 300 sites.

Summary

£50
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Entering its 56th year, the granddaddy of all UK pizza chains has “survived the passing of time”, and is still hanging in there. These past five years have not been vintage ones for the brand, however – since its takeover by Hony Capital in 2014, “the whole experience seems a bit more soulless” and, after a continual slide, its ratings bottomed out somewhere between “just so average” and “all-in-all not bad”. As “a good introduction for kids to eating out” however, it still enjoys massive support thanks to its “kind and supportive service given to frazzled grandparents and over-excited grandsons”. Some wider hope comes from the “improved” Oxford Circus branch which is the prototype of a promising new look (“with a central bar feature, at which you can eat if you prefer, plus draught Peroni and a better menu,which has brought some desperately-needed vigour back to this tired chain”). At the end of October 2020 in reaction to the pandemic, the chain announced 1,100 job losses at 73 sites, although no actual closures amongst its total of 370 sites were involved.

Summary

£50
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Entering its 55th year, the granddaddy of all UK pizza chains has “survived the passing of time”. These past five years have not been vintage ones for the brand, however – since its takeover by Hony Capital in 2014, “the whole experience seems a bit more soulless” and, after a continual slide, its ratings have bottomed out somewhere between “just so average” and “all-in-all not bad”. As “a good introduction for kids to eating out” however, it still enjoys massive support thanks to its “kind and supportive service given to frazzled grandparents and over-excited grandsons”. Some wider hope comes from the recently “much-improved” Oxford Circus branch which is the prototype of a promising new look (“newly revamped with a central bar feature, at which you can eat if you prefer, plus draught Peroni and a better menu has brought some desperately-needed vigour back to this tired chain”). “Only a few more hundred branches to refurb now...”

Summary

£49
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“There is a lot more competition in the chain pizza market these days”; and while this long-enduring (est 1965) feature of every high street still has a very large fan club, it is steadily losing support. Some of this may be that “it is inevitably a much less distinctive presence nowadays” and huge numbers of reporters do still see it as a “safe bet” (and most particularly “an easy choice for a meal out with a five-year old”). More rivalry doesn’t really explain its steadily bombing ratings however – in particular the evaporation of the once-excellent ambience at its branches since Hony Capital took charge. In this regard, cynicism seems justified: “my favourite branch has been ruined by the greedy private equity owners cramming in small tables so that the atmosphere is as delightful as rush hour on the underground. Such a pity – as it was so good for so many years”. “Generous discounting” has also seemingly become a permanent factor – “without one of their plentiful voucher deals, it can seem distinctly overpriced”.

For 31 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).

Have you eaten at PizzaExpress?

Restaurant details

Highchair
Yes
55
No dress code

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