I have been wanting to visit Pizza Express at Scotts Square ever since I watched the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) because:
Mr. Newt Scamander dispenses good advice: you can solve any problems with good pizza and a beer. And Pizza Express serves surprisingly good pizzas.
Pizza Express has more than 50 years of history and 500 outlets in UK, Europe, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. 37 year-old Fey FOO Yung Wei is the head chef in the Singapore outlet, which opened a year ago. (They recently open a second outlet at Duo Galleria.)
Foo started as a part-time banquet waiter at 14 years old; a kitchen helper at cze char store at 16; and a baker and co-owner at Big Ben’s Place at 25. While working at Triple Three, he eventually took a diploma in patisserie at Baking Industry Trading Centre and became the chef de partie at defunct Lucky 13 and, later, the head chef at Coq and Balls.
The long introduction is to prove what I like about Pizza Express. I hate chain restaurants and seldom visit them partly because the food is homogenous and partly because I’d rather support small businesses. But Pizza Express is a chain restaurant that doesn’t behave like a chain restaurant. From the start to the end, our experience is excellent.
We began leggera superfood ($13/$20)–this is the $20 one–because we are suckers for anything with “superfood” in the name. It’s a mixed salad with spinach, cucumber, avocado, lentils, fresh mozzarella, butternut squash, beetroot, basil, pine kernels, drizzled with balsamic syrup. It’s a nice salad, but a little on the sour side.
We saw cooks tossing and spinning pizza doughs, introducing air into the dough, giving it a fluffiness. This was unexpected because I thought most chain restaurants would have catered their pizza base readymade. Seeing real, culinary work put into the food was a treat for us.
There are many interesting pizza selections divided into classic (original dough base since 1965) and romana (thinner, crispier crust). The ragu rosmarino pizza ($18), a beef bolognese-ricotta on bechamel pizza, and chilli crab pizza ($28) sound interesting.
But for our first time here, we got one of their most popular pizzas, the hero pizza otherwise known as calabrese ($26). It’s topped with spicy Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, jalapeno, roasted peppers, and red chillis, finished with more mozzarella, pesto, parmesan and rocket. What a glorious pizza this is! It has a wide palette of flavors: spiciness, sweetness, savoriness, and bitterness. The crust is crisp and tasty. Very likely to be my favorite pizzeria after Alt Pizza.
They also have traditional or handmade pastas. (See what I mean when I say they don’t believe like chain restaurants? They hand-toss pizzas and make pastas by hand.) The server recommended from the traditional section the linguine granchio con Panna ($23), which is embellished with steamed crabmeat and caviar. A dash of lime undercuts the heavy spicy cream sauce, almost curry-like. Wonderful! So delicious we were snatching for it. But the next time I return, I want to try the handmade pastas.
The dessert section is their weakest point, with few and boring options. The only thing we didn’t enjoy, big bad brownie ($10), cannot decide what it wants to be and ends up middling. It’s not rich enough, but it’s also not not rich. It’s sweet but also not sweet enough. It’s dense and heavy to be discomforting, but isn’t dense and heavy enough to be addictive.
From the name, PizzaExpress sounds like a cheap fastfood joint, but the price belies this notion: we paid $84 for two persons. However, the food and serve are unexpectedly great. We’ll definitely return. Mr. Newt Scamander is right about Pizza Express; it is magical.
Scotts Square, 6 Scotts Road, #B1-08/09,Singapore, 228209
tel: +65 6538 0083
You may be interested in…
–Ristorante Luka, Tanjong Pagar: Excellent Italian Food by Japanese Chef Takashi Okuno
–Extra Virgin Pizza, Asia Square
–Bruno’s Pizzeria and Grill, Katong: Great Homely Italian Food
–Pizza Fabbrica, Kampong Glam: One of the Best Restaurants This Year
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.