Zizzi was historically leading the high street restaurants with its vegan offering until PizzaExpress announced earlier in the year it too was putting a pizza on the menu aimed at those who avoided dairy cheese.
PizzaExpress had a suitable pizza available called Pianta already (which you can read a review of here) with a tomato base topped with veggies and rocket. The Giardiniera was officially launched on the 20th June this year and I was looking forward to trying it out the vegan mozzarella alternative they had sourced to replace dairy cheese.
As I’m not a fan of the olives and artichokes which made up the Giardiniera I asked if I could substitute the regular cheese for the dairy free version on the Margherita. I was told I could order any pizza on the menu and swap out the cheese, which means people with a lactose intolerance but who are not vegan can enjoy the meat toppings too.
The classic dough and sweet passata base worked well with the creamy dairy free alternative. It melted properly and had a decent cheesy taste. It also wasn’t ‘soupy’ like others used Zizzi, which I find like molten plastic. I used their garlic oil to dunk my leftover crusts in to and you can also have this with the famous PizzaExpress dough balls, another vegan-friendly option on the menu. My friend enjoyed the pairing of asparagus, red onion, garlic oil, and black olives on the Giardiniera. I’m not quite sure why there was only one half of a tomato on the pizza but it seems this might be an inside joke. Every picture I’ve seen posted on social media has had a solitary tomato on its topping. Very strange or measly, depending on the intention. Can the reason be shared please?
We didn’t have the appetite to finish the meal off with a bowl of Coconut Delight I’d enjoyed on my previous visit. I requested the bill before Dinky had the chance of growing fractious. There’s only so long the colouring in and nibbles will entertain her at the moment!
After trying out this new addition to the PizzaExpress menu it is now my favourite high street vegan pizza. It certainly looked and tasted the part, while their base has a better texture – in my opinion – to Zizzi’s offering. There was no additional charge levied for switching from the dairy cheese which I was pleased to see when paying the bill. The only surprise was the fact there’s no plant milk available for a coffee or tea after the meal. Hopefully this will be introduced soon.
Other chains like Pizza Hut need to follow suit and also adapt for those with dietary requirements going forward. PizzaExpress are also leading on labelling wines, making it easy to pair a Chianti with your Giardiniera. Judging by the popularity of these dairy free pizza alternatives the vegan market is still growing rapidly. While some will turn their nose up at a chain like this they fail to see what a minefield dining out as a vegan can be for some. There are still some areas where there aren’t a huge amount of choice or independent eateries who will take the time to thoughtfully cater for our needs, and in those instances these chains helpfully fill a gap in the market.
Thanks for reading,
Like dairy free pizzas? Check out our review of One Planet Pizza here.