Saturday 6 June 2009

Pizza Express, Dulwich Village, south London

Housed over two floors of a Victorian building, this branch of Pizza Express is still sporting sash windows, elegant fireplaces and other period features. But, at busy times, the interior can feel cramped as mildly-stressed, black-shirted waiters and waitresses try to weave their way from the open plan kitchen through the too closely-packed tables. Early on a Saturday evening in the summer, diners may be surrounded by boisterous kids' birthday parties, families and even the odd group of twentysomethings dolled-up for a big night out, while a handful of people queue at the door.

Elaborate platter
As well as the usual pizzas, pasta and salad dishes, the Pizza Express menu now includes an elaborate meze (about £9) of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, hot and succulent slabs of bread, wafer-thin cured meats, small chunks of mozzarella, parmesan shaved over sugarsnap peas and peperonata sauce, all served on a slate platter. The three-course kids' menu, which is also good value for six quid, starts with dough balls and a smattering of crudite, followed by a choice of small passable pizzas or pasta dishes and then creamy, sweet sundaes. To wash it down, you can get iced tap water for nothing or pay about £2 a pop for fruit juices, while adults may prefer to reach for the bottles of Peroni or the fairly-priced wine list. 6/10