One of the main high street pizza restaurants in the U.K. is Pizza Express, founded by pizza lover and fan of jazz, Peter Boizot in 1965. Why am I telling you about him, I hear you ask, it’s because last night I, along with Sara and my friend Mim, visited his sister’s Lancaster pizzeria, Pizza Margherita.
After having picked Mim up earlier in the day from Manchester airport, having set off from America the day before and running on 3 hours sleep, we decided to keep busy until a realistic bed time, showing her Lancaster castle, Dalton Square and catching Mr Mime[s] on Pokemon Go (apparently they don’t have them in America!)
The last stop for the day was for something to eat (I already introduced Mim to the delights of PoundBakery earlier in the day) so pizza it was.
Located opposite the Dukes Playhouse Theatre, Pizza Margherita is one of Lancaster’s most popular restaurants, and it’s one I’ve been aware of for many years, long before I moved here, but had never got around to visiting. Time for that to change…
As we walked through the door and waited to be shown to a table, there seemed to be a comitteee meeting about which member of staff would greet us, but eventually we were sat in the airy front part of the restaurant with great light.
Drink orders were taken, usually I don’t photo my drink unless it’s particularly interesting, but it’s so nice to have Coca Cola from a glass bottle, it tastes better! (Even if it doesn’t really)
…and then we waited.
Some time later food orders were taken for pizza.
Sara had a 10″ Francescana: ham, mushroom, tomato, mozerella, oregano. Generously sized pieces of decent ham with mushrooms. It’s a decent pizza, if nothing to get too worked up about.
I had a 10″ San Marco: bacon, spinach, Lancashire cheese, tomato, oregano. Two things stood out with this pizza, the intense tomato sauce base, and the pillowy dough. Pizza Margherita could do with introducing a classic Neapolitan style Marinara to their menu to highlight these two elements.
I also got to indulge in one of my favourite Italian restaurant moments… the pepper mill guardian routine. Not seen since I visited Ask Italian back in 2013, the waitress puts on her ceremonial hat and robe, and brings the one pepper mill in the restaurant to your table and grinds pepper for you, because mere mortals cannot be trusted with the giant pepper mill!
Mim, starting to feel the effects of a transatlantic flight chose just a 7″ Paganini: prawns, smoked chicken, chorizo, peas, mozzarella, barbecue sauce, paprika. Apparently 25p from every sale of this pizza go to a charity called Defying Dementia, which seems apt because the selection of ingredients seem like someone started making one pizza, forgot what it was they were doing, and then start making a second pizza on top of the one they had already started. Apparently, despite the disparate selection of toppings, nothing overpowered each other and it was quite pleasant, and nothing like the pizzas Mim gets back home!
After pizza, we know we want dessert. We wait.
…eventually plates are collected and we are asked if we would like to see the dessert menu. Yes please… we wait.
The member of staff who asked if we would like dessert menus walks around aimlesssly, not seemingly doing anything, and definitely not bringing us dessert menus. Another, younger, member of staff stands at the open kitchen talking to the pizza chefs showing off throwing dough into the air.
After some time, dessert menus are brought over and puds are ordered… we wait even longer, despite these definitely being the sort of quick desserts that are made in advance.
Sara and Mim both ordered a Toffee Lumpy Bumpy, a moist toffee sponge layered with toffee mousse and lumpy bumpy cheesecake, surrounded by caramel ganache and topped with chocolate and caramel pieces. Mim enjoyed this, but has no frame of reference to compare it to, as it’s so unlike any desserts found in the states.
I had their tiramisu, made with a blend of fresh ground Illy coffee and Irish cream liqueur. If we ignore the fact that Irish cream liqueur has no place in a proper tiramisu, this was quite tasty and had a good hit of coffee.
After desserts we want to ask for the bill, unfortunately all of the staff seem to be avoiding eye contact, perhaps they’re just shy? Mim finds this weird, coming from in America where waiting staff are constantly scanning around them, checking if their tables need anything, because this can affect their tips.
After several failed attempts to get someone’s attention, I decide to go over to the till and ask for the bill, they say they will bring it over to the table… we wait.
We pay, and because we have lives to live and don’t want to die of old age, we leave before waiting for the change.
It’s only upon reviewing this photo of the receipt that I notice that they charged us for a 10″ Paganini pizza, as opposed to the 7″ which is a bit frustrating, but serves as a reminder to always check your bill before you leave.