I love pizza. Whether it’s wood-fired sour dough, simple-but-exquisitely topped Italian classics or bold and brazen Italian-American feasts, I’m a fan and I will eat as much as my little belly will allow. When it comes to great pizza, I believe less is certainly more (no one likes a soggy, over-topped mess) and I think the key is quality ingredients. It is possible to recreate fine quality pizza at home, as long as you invest in the best ingredients and spend some time perfecting your technique.
I also love a good party. Admittedly, at the ripe old age of twenty seven I’m not as good at it as I used to be (nor do I want to be!) but socialising with people is good for the soul. Team that with top food, some great drinks and a relaxed, cool and friendly environment, you really do have the recipe for a good time.
Turns out, the guys at Pizza Express do both (pizza and partying, that is) exceptionally well.
Along with a handful of other bloggers, I got invited to a small and intimate ‘Pizza Party’ at their place in West Didsbury. The aim was to take a look at their newly refurbished site and just see what we thought of their pizza party offering. I am going to cut to the chase and tell you now, hands down, I loved it. Here is how I got on in my “five reasons you should throw a pizza party”…
It’s fun and original.
Hen party, stag do, 30th birthday, 21st birthday… we are forever trying to come up with cool things to celebrate those important life events. If you want something fun and original to mark the occasion, I would honestly recommend a pizza party. Be warned, you do get a little messy, but aprons and cute chef hats are provided. Also, tossing the pizza with long nails can be tricky, so you might not be the best ‘tosser’ in the group if you’re a false-nails kind of girl… BUT I bet you will have a great time nonetheless. Everyone can get stuck in and have a go at crafting a pizza to perfection from scratch. How much fun will depend on the crowd you go with, but if it’s a great bunch of people you’re guaranteed to have a laugh.
You’ll learn something.
Liiiitle bit cheesy, but true. I love learning new skills and think you’re never too old to try something new. The pizza masterclass is run by a top Pizza Express chef who came straight out of the busy kitchen to give us a step-by-step run through of how to kneed the dough, toss it in the air to get the perfect flat, circular shape and how to top it like a pro. The party also includes a ‘calzone challenge’ (which I won!) where you all go head-to-head filling and folding a perfect Italian calzone. There’s prizes for best calzone, best pizza and biggest pizza tosser at the end too, so you also get the chance to flex those competitive muscles!
You’ll be well fed.
Whether your pizza party is ahead of a boozie night, a work team-building event or to celebrate your Granny’s 70th, you sure will be well fed. Pizza Express use great quality ingredients and that shows in the quality of the dough and toppings. The food was so fresh and there was a great selection of toppings to chose from… Including ground beef, sliced mushrooms, pepperoni, roasted peppers and jalapeños. I topped mine with: tomato base, pepperoni, jalapeños, hot green peppers, sun dried tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and their signature mozzarella cubes. I seasoned it with dried oregano, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Plus, the party starts with alllllllllll the dough-balls and big juicy olives for gluten-free guests. Well fed is actually an understatement!
There’s a hangover cure included.
Well, not strictly speaking. But, as you make both a pizza and a calzone each during the two-and-a-half-hour party, you get to choose which you eat as part of the evening over a drink. The ‘sit down meal’ part gives you all chance to reflect and will either be in the restaurant or private dining room depending on the site’s set-up and size of your party. We chose to eat our pizzas during the party, and take our calzone home for the next day. I can confirm, cold calzone for lunch the next day is to die for. I wasn’t hungover, but cold pizza IS my go-to hangover cure, and honestly, calzone is next level. If you haven’t tried it, I urge you to.
Veggies and Gluten freebies are well catered for.
Within my party was a gluten intolerant diner (my friend Pamela from www.spamellab.com) and two vegetarian diners, the legendary Matty and Lizzie from www.eatandtwoveg.com. The guys were all catered for wonderfully. Pam got to make the pizza and calzone as usual, then when it came to eating, they provided her with a gluten-free base she could also top with whatever she wanted. A great bonus meant she got extra to take home for her husband who, luckily for him, isn’t gluten intolerant so could help her out with both the pizza and calzone! His lucky day!
Our host for the evening and general manager, Nathan, was also really accommodating for the veggies of the group. They asked for extra roast veg for the calzone challenge and he more than happily obliged. After all, two of the planned fillings for the calzone were meat.
Overall, this was an excellent experience all-round and I think the other bloggers and guests would agree.
Below are some images of the West Didsbury Pizza Express following its revamp and with it’s new outdoor (non-smoking) courtyard, which was lovely!