The buzz: Shanghai’s outpost of British favorite Pizza Express has opened a new branch at the Shanghai Centre, following the success of the Xintiandi branch which opened back in 2006. Over in the UK it’s something of a staple – a cut above your Pizza Hut and your Domino’s, it’s the mid-range restaurant of choice for pre-theater dinners, casual evening meals and all that jazz.
The décor: Typical European contemporary. Glass, chrome furniture, blue trim, open kitchen.
The food: Starters include popular appetizers from the British Pizza Express menu, including doughballs with garlic butter, tomato sauce and pesto for dipping. We also tried the bruschetta, which came on mini hand-rolled pizza bases instead of the customary sliced baguette.
The pizza menu is divided into two sections: thin Neapolitans and thinner Romans. All in all there are about 30 varieties. We tried the Amatriciana (88 RMB), with spicy tomato sauce, pancetta, red onions, mozzarella, and basil, and the Peking duck (95 RMB) with hoisin, spring onions and crispy duck. Both were satisfying, but the Peking duck is definitely an acquired taste. Also on the ‘pizza with Chinese characteristics’ list is the Gong Bao pie (89 RMB). If you’re not into pizza, there are salads and pastas too.
The drinks: A good selection of wines (mostly under 300 RMB per bottle), beers, and softs, as well as coffee and tea.
Why you’ll be back: For a mid-range pizza dinner, or the weekday lunch deal. Get there between 11am and 2pm and pay 50 RMB for a half-size pizza and a soft drink, or 80 RMB for a regular pizza, starter, and soft drink.
1/F Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Xikang Lu