You may be surprised to learn that I spend an inordinate amount of time in Pizza Express. Usually because I have a huge stack of vouchers to use up, but also because it’s an easy and cosy place to meet up with friends for lunch. And I do a lot of lunching.
But before you clap your hands over your mouths in horror/surprise/amusement/disbelief at all the calories that I must inevitably be consuming, let me tell you what I choose from the menu, because this is very important; I choose from the same little pool of options each time, with slight variations. Tempting as it is to order a humungous pizza with sides every time I step through the door and smell the dough baking, I exercise a little self-restraint and leave the restaurant having not consumed any more calories than if I had popped into the sandwich shop for a baguette.
The Leggera Pizza, ladies and gentleman, is a pizza with most of the middle missing. The hole in the middle is filled with salad leaves and a few tomato halves, dressed with the regular Pizza Express dressing (which I have a slight addiction to). In effect, you get the best of both worlds – nice cripsy pizza, fresh light salad – on one plate. Total calories? 500. Less than most baguettes, I’ll wager! (I normally end up ‘spending’ the saved calories on wine, so please don’t hoist me up onto a diet pedestal, here – I only have so much willpower! It’s unfortunate that I have to watch my figure constantly when I adore my food so very, very much, so I’m just sharing with you a little ‘cheat’ card that I pull out every so often!)
Regular pizzas range from 674 for a Margherita (BORE OFF!) to 1153 for the ‘Etna’, with most coming in at the 750-850 mark, so the Leggera presents quite a nice calorie saving. Enough for at least one glass of white wine, which is all I need at lunchtime to render the rest of the working day a total write-off. Always good.
If pizza isn’t your thing, then here’s my standby Pizza Express dish: the ‘Pollo’ salad. Goat’s cheese, chicken breast, red peppers, black olives, mixed leaves and about a litre of regular Pizza Express dressing. Now, you may have heard that vicious rumour circulating, which has become every woman’s mantra when she peruses the Pizza Express menu: “the salads have more calories and fat in them than any of the pizzas!” This fact is partly true, in that if you order a salad with dough sticks, it’ll be high in calories. But think about what you’re doing when you order with dough sticks – you’re having an entire thick pizza crust “on the side”. The ‘Pollo’ salad with dough sticks is 651 calories (still much more diet friendly than most pizzas, I might add!), but take off the dough sticks and suddenly you’re looking at 412. Excellent.
If anyone is as weird as me and likes to study nutritional information then you can look at the calories in the Pizza Express menu items HERE! If this has bored you to tears and you have no desire whatsoever to watch your figure, then please feel free to disregard all of the above and order an Etna, with doughsticks, bruschetta, ice cream and a bottle of Vin Rouge!