On a balmy October day the editor of Northern Soul and her deputy sit on the astro-turfed terrace of First Street’s Pizza Express sipping cool drinks in the afternoon sun. Yep, you read that right – sun in October! In Manchester!
We’re checking out the newest Pizza Express outlet in these here parts (there are 13 all told spanning Manchester and Salford). It’s one of the first foodie venues to open in the First Street development. Already home to HOME, the city’s centre’s new £25 million arts centre, Pizza Express is perfectly situated for peckish theatre, art and film patrons.
Situated round the corner from the former Haçienda club (a name that will evoke fond and hazy memories for many Mancunian readers), the restaurant takes decorative inspiration from the legendary nightspot and is decorated with jazzy chairs and colourful wall tiles, all reminiscent of the Haçienda’s iconic interior.
The terrace seating area is a particularly pleasant feature. Glass walls let in loads of light and the turfed floor creates a summery feel. On the day we were there, the awning and glass doors were pulled back to create a semi-outdoor space for alfresco dining.
Meanwhile, the menu is the usual, tasty Pizza Express offering. Though it wouldn’t usually be a complaint we struggled to find any dishes without garlic. I can confirm from previous experiences that the dough balls lathered in garlic butter are divine, but not a great choice if you plan on spending the evening chatting with friends – sans garlic breath.
We had bruschetta to start, which was only lightly brushed with garlic butter and served with tomato and basil – a lovely fresh and light appetiser to the meal.
Then onto Romana pizzas, made with the same amount of dough as a regular pizza but spread thinly so you get a massive pizza with an authentic crispy base – brilliant.
After wolfing down our pizzas we were a little too full for dessert. Fortunately the Dolcetti mini desserts (served with a hot drink) are a perfect way to sate your sweet tooth without bursting buttons. The dinky lemon posset (like a little lemony cheesecake) was a great palate cleanser after my chilli-topped pizza, as was the mint tea chosen by my editor.
Pizza Express – we’ll be back.
Where: First Street North, Manchester
When: Mon-Sat, 11:30am – 11:00pm; Sunday, 11:30am – 10:30pm