Pizza Express has always been my favourite pizza restaurant. Maybe it is because there has always been a lovely friendly branch literally four minutes walk from my front door. (My son’s favourite take-away throughout his childhood was a ‘margherita with extra tuna and ham’…).
Or maybe it is because way back in the dawn of time when I used to do a regular recipe slot on LBC Radio, Pizza Express’ founder, Peter Boizot, a great LBC enthusiast, used to treat me to the occasional lunch in the original Pizza Express in Wardour Street.
Or maybe it is just because they not only serve excellent pizzas, but they also serve nice salads and a decent glass of wine quickly and at a very reasonable price.
Anyhow, for whatever reason, they have always been my favourite and I have been becoming increasingly frustrated at their failure to accommodate their freefrom customers – although I did completely understand their concerns over contamination. Since they do roll out all their pizza bases on site, there are permanent clouds of flour emanating from the pizza kitchens – which are situated in the middle of most of the restaurants!
So I am particularly delighted that they have not only finally bitten the bullet but have done it in an extremely comprehensive fashion – and with the imprimatur of Coeliac UK. They have not just created a gluten-free pizza base but a whole gluten-free menu, including starters, salads, oven-baked dishes, gluten-free brownies and gluten-free beer!! (One of FreeFrom Food Awards winners Green’s pilsners no less!)
But – and this is the master stroke – they have also solved the flour contamination problem. How? By, as of today, using gluten-free flour for rolling out all their pizza doughs, be they gluten-filled or gluten-free, in all their restaurants. This will not affect the taste of the normal pizzas as literally it is only a dusting, but it means that the apparently insoluble contamination problem ceases to exist.
The new menu goes live tonight, in all of their 420 odd restaurants, and I am very much looking forward to trying it – although it may not be till the end of next week. However, we will be investigating the whole process they have gone through (which included taking on board feedback from concerned bloggers) in more detail on FreeFrom FoodsMatter once we have tasted the new pizzas – and the beer!!
Then we will need to start talking to them about creating not only a gluten-free menu but a gluten and dairy-free one….
Meanwhile, if anyone else gets to try them out before I do, I would love to know what you think!