Pizza Express New Leeds Arena Restaurant
Graham Clark, Features Writer
With at least 3 other Pizza Express restaurants in Leeds you would think that there would not be room enough for another one.
The new Pizza Express Leeds Arena restaurant isn't technically inside the arena but is situated adjacent to it. On Show nights they say it is heaving, but when we visited on a quiet early evening Sunday night we more or less had the restaurant to ourselves. Leeds itself was quiet and all the other restaurants we passed were empty too.
Featuring the new design there are the usual marble tables and open kitchen which are the staples you get with Pizza Express, but the cosy wooden booths and other comfortable seating makes a change.
It is a big place and when you have more staff on than customers it really does need to be discovered. They have plentiful outdoor seating which will be a huge draw over the summer months. The whole place felt new and modern.
Fittingly they have launched a new spring menu which includes 3 new pizzas: Margherita Bufala, Vegan Mezze and Barbacoa.
Service was good with water being offered as we decided upon our mains, whilst fresh cutlery was always offered too.
I got the impression that they were aiming at a more sophisticated customer than your average pizza chain. The music to me always seems to give you an idea who they are trying to attract. In this case the playlist seemed to consist of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and other Nu-Soul jazz artists. More of a niche market, you would never get these artists being able to fill the 12,000 seater Leeds Arena.
I decided upon the Barbacoa pizza minus the tomato. With a mix of Barbacoa beef, chipotle sauce, mozzarella, garlic oil, red onion and coriander it was a very fiery offering. It seemed to have a subtle sweet taste too, but all the toppings went together to compliment one another. Served on a choice of three bases the Classic option was the one for me. A good choice as it was tasty and hotter than a ticket to see Michael Buble at the Arena next month.
My sister who is vegetarian chose the new Vegan Mezze pizza minus the jalapeños. Again this was a hot temptation with smoked chilli char grilled aubergine, tomato, harissa, garlic oil, Roquito pepper, rocket and houmous. Because it was so hot in taste it seemed to dissolve the taste of the other ingredients.
There are new desserts too that have a more lighter spring feel. The Honeycomb Cream slice had a very firm biscuit base topped with cream served with my choice of gelato. It certainly cut through the fat from my pizza and was an ideal choice to finish with.
My sister thought her warm Lemon Sponge cake was adorable, served with fresh raspberries and vanilla gelato it had a zesty taste with a bite.
I hope the restaurant can attract a regular clientele other than those on Arena show nights, once discovered it will gain a faithful following.
For me though it deserves a full round of applause.
Pizza Express Leeds Arena, 23 Merrion Way, Leeds LS2 8BT
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Pizza Express New Leeds Arena Restaurant, 20th May 2019, 15:22 PM