Gluten Free Living – Pizza Express
Before I start I’ll just put it out there again that I am by no means a food expert. The smile on my face after somebody bought me McDonald’s chips and a crunchie the other day will vouch for that (don’t judge me, it was one of those days.) But being coeliac, celiac if you’re American, means that eating out and eating on the go can be – to put it in the best way I possibly can – an absolute pain in the arse! There’s an articulate sentence if you’ve ever seen one….
So, based on the fact that; I’m always on the lookout for helpful gluten-free blog posts, there isn’t actually a lot of gluten-free information on Pizza Express and, most importantly, my last post on gluten-free food at popular pan asian restaurant Gilgamesh actually ended up – to my complete and utter surprise – being my most popular post, I’ve decided to write about my experiences with other restaurants.
On first thoughts and impressions you would think Pizza Express would be an absolute nightmare for coeliacs, and absolutely rightly so. Let’s face it a place that predominantly sells pizza, pasta and all things doughy is never going to be the most inviting for people who can’t go near gluten. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that my dear old mum has been receiving money off vouchers for as long as I can remember (what is it with mums and vouchers? and sorry about the ‘old’ if you’re reading mum) it wouldn’t be a place that I would have chosen to go to.
As I have been to Pizza Express a fair few times before, I didn’t have to do my usual ringing up the restaurant before hand to see if there was anything I could have (an absolute essential after rocking up to China Town and realising the only thing I’d be consuming all night was drinks!) So, cutting to the chase, what can you actually eat there if you’re on a gluten-free diet?
First thing’s first, I have to give credit to Pizza Express as they do have allergy information on their website. Praise the bloody lord!! Which I’ve linked to here – Allergy info
But for anyone who is having a bit of a lazy day (we all have them) and can’t really be bothered to search through (my kind of people) I’ll summarise it for you as quick and easily as I can.
Items not containing gluten:
- Nocellara Del Belica
- Macarona Almonds
- Olives Marinate
- Roasted Tomatoes
Starters and sides: –
- Mozarella and Tomato salad
- Mixed Salad
- Melanzane Parmigiana ** UPDATE – Please note that in some restaurants this dish is now made with normal breadcrumbs meaning it is no longer gluten-free. Please double check the menu, and with staff at the restaurant you’re visiting to make sure it’s gluten free first**
- Pizza Express do not sell gluten free pasta dishes or pizza’s but I know that with the branches I’ve visited you can take your own GF pasta or pizza bases and they’ll make a dish for you. Obviously cross contamination issues will be different in every restaurant so I’d speak to the manager of whichever one you plan to visit and make your own opinion.
- Salads – All salads are listed as containing gluten as they come with dough sticks but each one, taking away dough sticks and dressings (and croutons if included) are gluten free.
- Raspberry sorbet
- Caffe Reale
- Tartuffo al Ciocolato
- Semi Freddo Reale
- Coppa gelato chocolate, gelato coffee, gelato strawberry, gelato vanilla and the Toffee fudge glory all without the wafer
So there’s your options. As I said I’ve been many times and tried just about every option but it was only the last couple of times that I actually had the balls to take pictures of what I ate (new blogger inhibitions and all that..)
*UPDATE – this dish in some restaurants is now made with normal breadcrumbs, please double check with staff before ordering*
Here’s the Melanzane Parmigiana. A mix of aubergines, bechamel sauce, mozarella and tomatoes, gluten-free bread crumbs and grana padano (whatever the hell that is)
This is a personal favourite of mine. The cheese isn’t too overpowering but there’s enough to make it tasty, the same with the tomatoes and tomato sauce. There’s also a decent amount of aubergine and veg inside too, the only thing I’d change is maybe adding it a bit of chicken or meat in just, I don’t know…bulk it up? Anyway, it’s lovely to go to an Italian restaurant and actually be able to eat something other than lettuce. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it a lot….
Onto desert. Toffee fudge sundae (without the wafer!)
Ice creamy, chocolatey, fudge, toffee sauce goodness.
And as the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words!
Just for reference, in case you’re feeling quite full after your meal and only want a small desert, I can confirm that the Tartufo al Cioccolato is equally lovely and definitely won’t leave you feeling as stuffed!
I’ll do you all a favour and end this post now as I can quite easily ramble into 2013 when it comes to food. I hope this post is/was useful for any coeliacs out there or anyone on a gluten-free diet. And for those of you who aren’t, hopefully this was a bit interesting/insightful anyway. Probably not, but there’s always hope!
Thanks so much for reading!
*Hi all. I’m pretty sure, by the ugly red writing scrawled all over this post now, that you can tell there has now been some updates. I ate out at Pizza Express yesterday 29/01/13 and as usual went to order the Melanzane Parmigiana, it was only when I took a closer look at the menu that I realised it just listed ‘breadcrumbs’ and not ‘gluten-free breadcrumbs’ I asked the waitor if it was no longer GF, unsurprisingly he gave me a vacant look – gluten was clearly as alien to him to as Predator – and just shook his head. I decided to err on the side of caution and not order it and thankfully so, as another waitor then confirmed that some restaurants use ‘normal’ breadcrumbs now. I just wanted to point this out to everyone in case you ordered your ‘usual’ without looking (as I nearly did, easily done) and ended up being glutened. As lovely as the Melanzane Parmigiana, nothing is worth being glutened!*