The chain's 50th branch opened in Manchester in late 2019.
Harden's survey result
One of the victors in the casual dining downturn: this mushrooming multiple has become the survey’s most-mentioned pizza chain – “it beats PizzaExpress hands down” nowadays (of which owner David Page was once CEO) thanks to pizza that’s “so much more tasty” than PE’s, with “gorgeous sourdough bases” and “excellent toppings” and “all for a very reasonable price”, so no-one minds the “cheap ’n’ cheerful” style of its “loud, very busy and noisy” branches.
“Despite the ever-expanding franchise”, the pizzas are “solidly enjoyable and a cut above” (“you’ve just got to love the sourdough bases” and “quality toppings”), according to the hordes of fans of the “buzzing, busy and rather cramped” branches of this crazily expanding chain, which nowadays is the survey’s “go-to for a cheap ’n’ cheerful family pizza”, eclipsing the once-mighty PizzaExpress in the level of interest it generates. There’s no hiding its steadily declining ratings, though, with a sentiment that “while it’s still usually very reliable, standards have slipped over repeat visits”; for its harshest critics the effect is now “Frankly Manky!”.
“If this is what passes for chain-pizza these days, we are indeed living in fine times!” From humble Brixton Market origins, these “frenetic” and “rather basic” cafés have embarked on “a mammoth roll-out” and even if ratings don’t equal the early days, most reporters marvel at how steady quality has remained. It’s the sourdough bases – “crispy on the outside with a fine, chewy taste towards the centre” – that make dishes “so much better than bog standard”, along with “bold” toppings (“away from the run-of-the-mill”) all at “keen prices”.
“Who knew a chain could do such great pizza?!” – their “slightly chewy”, but thin, fresh and “so-darn-tasty” wood-fired, sourdough crusts (plus “a few simple toppings packed with flavour”) help maintain surprisingly high ratings for this VC-backed brand. Branches are “chaotic and noisy” but “for such authentic quality they still offer amazing value”.