A Love Letter To Pizza Express As The Chain Announces 67 Restaurant Closures

It was more than just dough balls. Though we will really miss the dough balls.

A Love Letter To Pizza Express As It Looks Like It's Going Into Administration

by Rebecca Reid |
Updated on

They say only two things in life are inevitable – death and taxes. But there's a third, and it's eating at Pizza Express. I refuse to believe that anyone growing up in the UK can have passed through life without experiencing the marble table tops, blue glass vases and dough balls that define Pizza Express. And yet, to our horror, the chain has announced that 67 restaurants are set to close across Britain as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

You go as a kid, because it's child friendly. Not just masquerading as child friendly as waiters grit their teeth. Mini pizzas, ice-cream sundaes, colouring sets and little chef's hats. They do birthday parties and school trips. If your toddler is screaming while you attempt to post pasta into its face, you're not the only one. It's an eating-out safe space.

In your teenage years it's a rite of passage. You and your friends cover yourselves in Charlie Red body spray and take the bus to town to go to Pizza Express - On Your Own. And despite the fact that Pizza Express is the basic bitch of chain restaurants, going there alone for the first time feels like the height of sophistication. Obviously you're a teenager so you can only afford to get a margarita between two and a glass of tap water, but it doesn't matter. You're eating out. You're a Rockefeller.

In your twenties and thirties it's the compromise. The place you scarf down a Pollo Ad Astra before you see stand-up or go to the cinema, somewhere to meet a friend after work for a dinner you consider cancelling but come away from glad that you didn't. Safe, reliable, always there. You might not plaster it all over Instagram, but you'll never leave hungry. None of the Insta-famous eateries with flower walls and concept menus will let you use a voucher, now will they?

Pizza Express is the long-suffering mum of the restaurant world – providing and providing without any thanks or recognition. And now it looks like it might be about to disappear in its entirety.

If Pizza Express does close, you'll still be able to get a pizza. Probably a better pizza than they made, something with a sourdough base and five types of mozzarella. But it will still leave a gaping hole in the high street both literally and figuratively.

It currently occupies 436 properties across the UK, so the closure of a significant portion of its restaurants will result in empty buildings, job losses and the death of that essential (if slightly boring) middle-ground meeting point where you can order an old faithful and be reassured that some things never change.

READ MORE: We tried the hottest pizza in London


The Best Bottomless Brunches In London - Grazia

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CREDIT: Bourne and Hollingsworth

Bourne and Hollingsworth

Available every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm, our favourite botanical-inspired restaurant opens it's doors for a lush bottomless brunch experience. Bourne and Hollingsworth's Clerkenwell townhouse is a hotspot for brunch fans and influencers alike, thanks to it's tasty breakfast classics and plant-filled interiors. You can add bottomless bloody marys, bellinis or bubbles from £17.

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Bad Egg

This all day American-based diner based in Barbican is one of London's hottest brunch destinations. Priced at £35, you can choose to sip on either prosecco, bloody mary or a mimosa for the duration of your two hour stay, whilst munching on something from the diner's delicious menu. Mmm.

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CREDIT: Darcie & May Green

Darcie & May Green

For something a little different, why not brunch aboard a floating piece of art outside Paddington Station on the Grand Union Canal? Darcie & May Green offers a divine bottomless brunch for £39.50 per person, which you consume on a barge filled with artwork from Brit Art godfather Sir Peter Blake. Aussie brunch is the theme for this floating restaurant - think fritters, fancy roll bacon and banana bread sandwiches.

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CREDIT: Quaglino's Instagram


Swanky Quaglino's is the place to be if you're after a plush brunch complete with live music. You can add free-flowing bubbles to your meal for £25, or opt for the cocktail variety for £28. The menu includes breakfast classics like eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes, as well as sophisticated mains like wild mushroom linguine and slow cooked pork belly.

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CREDIT: Sea Containers

Sea Containers

If you're yet to visit Sea Containers, then you're truly missing out. Set on the South Bank, this waterside dining room hosts a feel-good brunch every Saturday and Sunday between 12 and 4pm. If you're feeling in the mood, opt for a seafood platter with your bottomless bubbles - the kale salad and fish pie are also smart choices.

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CREDIT: Serata Hall Instagram

Serata Hall

Pizza and pasta fans, rejoice: Serata Hall is the go-to for carb-heavy bottomless brunches. All the dishes are perfectly-sized-satisfaction. You know the type, not leaving you too full and ready to tuck into the next. Oh, and did we mention that a disco plays tunes all day long? Yep.

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For something a little fancy, book the £59 bottomless brunch as ZELA, the coveted restaurant within ME London Hotel on The Strand. The cuisine is a mixture of Japanese and Mediterranean flavours - so think dishes such as ceviche, wagyu teriyaki, and chicken satay skewers. Obviously, bottomless prosecco, bellinis & a bloody mary bar are on offer, too. Plus, you'll be kept entertained with a DJ for the entire two hours. Dreamy.

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CREDIT: Chucs Mayfair

Chucs Mayfair

From 11am to 6pm every Sunday, head on over to the glorious Chucs Mayfair for an assortment of breakfast classics such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, avocado on sourdough and hearty club sandwiches. It goes without saying that you can catch up with friends over free-flowing alcoholic beverages, in this fashionable spot on Dover Street, too.

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CREDIT: Pachamama


Introducing the prettiest Peruvian plates you ever did see - paired with bottomless prosecco and bellinis, courtesy of Pachamama. Pick from a selection of mouthwatering dishes including sweet and savoury waffles, ceviche and charcoal-grilled chicken - or opt for the brunch tasting menu to sample a little bit of everything.

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CREDIT: Piano Works

Piano Works

Piano Work in Farringdon is an excellent bottomless brunch choice if you want a little entertainment with your meal. Every Saturday, the venue hosts pianists and a live band that play requested songs, making it perfect for music lovers. There's two bottomless brunch options to choose from: a one-course brunch box for £35 or a two-course brunch for £50.

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This bottomless brunch is not for the faint-hearted: it begins brunch with bottomless cocktails and canapés in the Pisco Bar & Lounge, while you're entertained by a DJ. Signature menu dishes are then served in the main restaurant while special performers and musicians keep the party going. It's a pretty lively afternoon, so don your best dancing shoes!

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CREDIT: All Bar One

All Bar One

For £30 per person, you can choose a brunch dish and unlimited prosecco, mimosas or Ciroc bloody marys from All Bar One's brilliant bottomless brunch. There's also a few veggie and vegan options, including full breakfast, avocado on toast and waffles.

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CREDIT: The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James

The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James

For bottomless brunch with a view, book a table at The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James, which overlooks the stunning views of London city. This brunch menu is priced at £45 per person, and includes a tasty selection of sharing style starters including parmesan & truffle arancini and tomato, mozzarella & pesto salad, and a choice of main courses including eggs royale. This place is a true brunch hotspot during summer, and when the weather drops, outdoor heaters, blankets and a retractable roof will keep you warm.

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CREDIT: Hijingo


Hijingo is bottomless brunch and bingo - with a fun futuristic spin. If you're looking to do something out-of-the-ordinary for a hen do or birthday party, the £45 package provides two games of bingo, as much Prosecco as you like (and they give you the bottle, so no need to be asking for refills) and a main course. So even if you don't win at the bingo, you'll still be winning.

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