tastecard

tastecard Featured Restaurant: PizzaExpress – Sheffield, The Moor

by Tom Simpkins · 0 comments

in restaurants

Sometimes there’s nothing better than the comfort of certainty. The knowledge that when you get home your bed will be cosy and warm, that when you get into the office someone will have made you a cup of coffee and that when you watch a Marvel Netflix show it’ll be great.

…Maybe that last example was somewhat dubious but another, more sure fire example, is that you know when you go to a PizzaExpress you’re going to love every single bite. That’s why when I was asked to visit one of Sheffield’s many branches, the Sheffield, The Moor branch to be exact, I knew I was in for a good time. Though I’d always enjoyed visiting PizzaExpress in the past I felt that this time it had to be different, as I wasn’t just there to devour my usual bowl of dough balls (though we did indulge in a few because, of course, we had to) but to sample all of the alluring specialities adorning the menu.

 

 

When my brother and I arrived we were soaking wet. A dark, depressing cloud loomed over Sheffield and had been drowning the city for hours without any sign of cheering up. Eager to escape the elements we rode the escalator up into The Light and found to our immediate left The Moor’s PizzaExpress. It couldn’t have been simpler to find, offering guests an almost instant transfer from the gloom of the outside world into the welcoming arms of PizzaExpress which, for those trudging through the city streets, is a priceless feature of a city centre based eatery. Perhaps due to the torrential rainfall, or because it was a Thursday evening, the restaurant was fairly quiet but I personally prefer dining with nothing but the restaurant’s charm to create an atmosphere; and this PizzaExpress certainly had charm.

Comfortable yet contemporary, the interior was awash with a stark, dark grey to orange colour scheme, spaced out ample seating and modern touches like exposed hanging bulbs and dark wooden panelling. From our booth we could even see an al fresco dining area that, despite the foul weather outside, looked like an appealing spot from which to enjoy an aperitif and a few bites. A relaxed variety of mood lifting music filled the restaurant, providing a delightful blend of casual jazz and light popular hits while the scent of freshly cooked pizzas eased us into our seats. The incredibly laid back ambience captivated us for a few moments as we both took it in.

 

 

We were shortly met by the friendly manager who, after asking if we were well, asked us what our drinks of choice would be. Despite being sat directly next to a stockpile of Peroni’s my brother and I decided to keep things traditionally Italian and each opted for a glass of wine. He looked forward to a glass of Merlot while, at the manager’s recommendation, I eagerly awaited a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. As my brother appeared to be thoroughly enjoying his selection I thought it would be rude to have a sip, though I didn’t mind this at all as the manager’s recommendation was flawless. One taste and I was enchanted, vowing to never again buy white wine unless it came from New Zealand.

 

While we savoured our wines we decided upon the small plates that would tantalise our taste buds. My brother could not resist the call of the classic Dough Balls, while I allowed myself to begin an adventurous streak by requesting the special starter, the Cod Crocchettes. They arrived swiftly, much to our delight, and we wasted no time indulging ourselves. No words need to be spoken to sell PizzaExpress’ Dough Balls; perfectly hot with a soft interior that, when liberally coated with garlic butter, could not have made for a finer way to begin the meal. Though I must instantly take that back as the moment the first Cod Crocchette passed my lips I tasted bliss. Smooth doesn’t begin to describe it; the smoked cod, the melted Mozzarella, the hints of red jalapeno, it all fused into a velvety texture that gave in the instant my tongue so much as touched the breadcrumb coating. Having been presented on a bed of rocket leaves I thought it fitting to enrich at least the odd mouthful with some of the peppery leaves and when it did they added that slight addition of a crunch with a wonderful contrast of flavours, all evened out by the delicious anchovy mayonnaise.

With our stomachs beseeching us for more we were grateful for the manager to arrive at our table again, to enquire as to what main course we would inevitably be falling in love with. My brother didn’t need to be asked twice, having been intrigued by the special Zapparoli, while I opted for the Pollo Forza, albeit with no Mozzarella, a light sprinkling of Gran Milano and a bottle of garlic and chilli oil to accompany it.

Before readers begin a petition to drag me out into the streets and tar and feather me for omitting the cheese from my pizza I must include a disclaimer; I have never liked cheese. Anyone familiar with any of my previous reviews will know that, in small quantities, I can allow myself a taste of it but as a whole I’m really not a fan of the stuff. I offer no apology, even as I stand my ground and defend my cheeseless pizza, though I ask readers to forgive me for my unorthodox tastes. Luckily in this case my choice was somewhat justified, thanks in no small part to the medley of potent chilli flakes and peppers providing ample flavour.

 

 

My Pollo Forza arrived as the thin, Romana version which made it incredibly easy to fold; something I hadn’t previously been able to achieve with my usual deep pan choices. It had a lot of spice going for it, but not an overwhelming amount. An underlining sensation of heat was behind every bite yet there was enough sweetness to be found in the Roquito, red and yellow peppers to create a fantastic balance. When partnered with the delectable tomato sauce base, the sumptuous hints of the Gran Milano cheese and the softer-than-clouds chicken the Pollo Forza was simply an explosion of taste, one only enhanced when I drizzled the chilli and garlic oils over individual slices. Being able to fold my slices quickly become much more than a mere novelty too, as when combined with the oils and finding a bite with a particularly large piece of chicken a mouthful of this pizza became quite unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted.

 

My brother’s Zapparoli was, in a way, a polar opposite to my choice though by no means any less delicious. He desired the classic, thicker base and in lieu of tomato sauce was a smooth creamed corn paste which made the pizza beyond smooth and creamy. Much like my pizza the abundance of Roquito peppers (this time in the form of little pearls) and chicken made each mouthful slightly sweet and utterly scrumptious, though the finest inclusion to this dish had to be the ‘nduja sausage that, although rare, really added a fiery element to the odd bite. A patron of all things pizza, my brother was astonished by the Zapparoli, having never enjoyed a pizza akin to it. Bizarre as it may seem, readers can take away from this review, if nothing else, that somehow PizzaExpress had accomplished the impossible and amazed both my brother and I, two men who had been set in our pizza ways for almost two decades.

 

 

With our plates laid bare and our bellies filled to the brim my brother and I had a tough decision to make; to dessert or not to dessert? That was the question that was raised by the enchanting waitress that arrived at our table, one that sadly my brother had to answer with the latter, asking for the perfect after meal pacifier that is an Irish Coffee. I was sorely tempted to waddle in his footsteps though I reminded myself I was a professional and that come hell or high water I would have to try one of each course. It’s a hard life, really.

 

The Salted Caramel Profiteroles ended up being my heavenly conclusion, accompanied by a Baileys Coffee, and I’ve honestly never been more satisfied with a dining decision. A handful of the divine treats were placed before me, though each bite was richer than silk and just as smooth. The slightly caramelised cream gave way after my teeth tore through the salted caramel coating, crafting a sweet experience. Concise and perfectly proportioned, these profiteroles were nothing short of blissful, made all the more so by my potent, yet palpably soothing, Baileys Coffee. We were informed by the  waitress that our liqueur laced coffees were her very first attempts at the drink, so I must note here that she did an excellent job. Though the meal had lulled us both into an almost half conscious state of pleasure these finishing touches to the meal re-energised us, preparing us both for the considerably less pleasant gauntlet of harsh weather, overwhelming darkness and the long drive home.

 

 

When all was said and devoured we thanked our gracious hosts, pulled on our coats and felt partially ready to brave the outside world. Whatever awaited us out there in the cold streets of Sheffield didn’t amount to much at that moment though, as we both walked tall with grins spread on our faces, thankful to the wonderful folk of PizzaExpress – Sheffield, The Moor for making our evening oh so incredible.

 

Have you visited this particular PizzaExpress? How was your experience? Or do you have a local PizzaExpress you also love? Let us know in the comments section below or tell us over on Facebook or Twitter!

 

By Tom Simpkins

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