What are Pizza Express thinking of???!!!

Since Pizza Express introduced their gluten free menu about eighteen months ago it's been my go-to choice for an evening meal on expenses.

I am away for business a lot (usually 3-4 nights a week) and wherever I am in the country the first place I check for is a Pizza Express. I don't eat there every night, though! So in the last year I must have had a hundred of their GF pizzas and have been very satisfied.

So what has prompted them to change the gluten free pizza base? What has possessed them, to ditch something that worked - that worked so well I felt like I was enjoying normal pizza - for something I can only describe as cardboard? Also distinctly "gluten free tasting" if you know what I mean?

Is it just me or is the new recipe disgusting?

If this continues, it's bye bye Pizza Express from me and I will be eating a lot more Bella Italia pasta.

23 Replies

  • And before you ask, yes, I have written to their head office as well as complaining in store.

  • Shame, thankfully I'd not noticed the last time I was in a couple of weeks ago so maybe I got the old recipe! If you're looking for tasty gf pizza and you have access to ASK their menu is very good - similar to PE most of their pizzas as well as many of the pasta dishes are available as a gf option and much more choice than PE because they do pasta as well! Interested to see what PE response is, seems a shame that many retailers are taking a retrograde step - I notice many supermarkets are reducing ranges and co-op is a particular disappointment as all but one of the sausages and no burgers are now gf apparently due to customer feedback and yet most of the glutens I know said you couldn't tell - apart from them tasting meatier and nicer quality!

  • Re: the co-op burgers, I was eating their refrigerated, I think it was Herefordshire, ones... Are they now not GF? That's such a pain if that's the case as I don't eat pork and I have an allium allergy so I can't eat most preprepared food as it all has onion or garlic (or leek or chive) in it... The burgers didn't so I could have those.

  • They're the ones, they've been replaced and the new packaging isn't gf!!!

    Shame because they were lovely, although I got some m&s ones this week and they were lovely too!

  • Oh that sucks! That's REALLY disappointing. I might write to them to express my feelings. I don't know how anyone could have objected to the GF version as my dad ate them and he doesn't have to eat GF and he never noticed! I bet making them with gluten is cheaper.

    Thank you for replying to me. I do eat the M&S ones as well, but sometimes I'm by a Co-op and not a Marks. I'll just have to make my own otherwise from some mince.

  • Hi there, this is a shame and happens all to often and to me it shows that Pizza Express have other priorities over taste and many years ago I was told that what is really important to most retailers is: cost weight and space. So I'd put it down to a cheaper gf base when the company KNOW that this the only option for those of us who need a gf diet.

    So I'd vote with your pocket and give Pizza express more space in their eateries. And I think that you've 100% done the right thing by contacting their HO and it will be interesting to know their response so please let us know as it affects all of us in one way or another.

    If you are ever in Bristol you want to try Pizza Provencale a family pizza house who do a gf pizza base and are well thought of:


    And may be we should back you up on this and have a campaign at Pizza express and see if we can get them to change their minds... food for thought.

  • Def the way to go Jerry as my local PE still has the existing bases because the new ones are a trial in certain restaurants - manager said if customers rejected them they wouldn't go with it. He said the gf was an important contribution to his sales and interestingly the gluten brownie has now gone and been replaced with gf only, so they are open to change!

  • Hi there

    Sorry to hear about PE. I haven't eaten there since May so cannot add any comment but yesterday Me and my son had a lovely gf pizza at PizZa Hut in Harrogate. Staff were very helpful in checking ingredients as my son is allergic to eggs. Let us know what PE head office say.

  • On the bright side, it's forced me to go looking elsewhere and I've ended up in Frankie and Benny tonight. Prawns followed by a slab of meat, with a few lettuce leaves and a lot of Malbec thrown in. Actually closer to my preferred diet than a plateful of carbs. Pizza was a convenient choice and I'm annoyed with them, but my waistline and cholesterol will probably appreciate getting back to high fat high protein diet!

  • Went to PE today and the bases were the same, when I asked if the recipe had changed she looked confused but checked with the manager and he came over and said that the new bases were a trial, if customers didn't like them he said they would probably stick with the existing!

  • That's good news, because the branch I went to recently said every single feedback on the new bases had been negative. And they know that they see me just in that branch a couple of times a week for one or two weeks a month... and sometimes I go there with colleagues as it's a safe GF choice... and it's on expenses so there's wine... in other words they lose a lot more than one customer every now and then.

  • Pizza Express was sold to a Chinese private equity company last month, so maybe it's something to do with that.

  • Interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks. All the more reason to tell them loudly and repeatedly what they're going to do to their market share if they think it's all about cost of goods!

  • Funny reading about PE because last week I got pulled into the Edinburgh festival crowds and when lunchtime came we went there knowing they had a GF pizza. It was foul. My man looked and didn't wanna even try it. It looked like uncooked tapioca and tasted... well we decided then and there that we wouldn't be returning. Please let us know if they decide to revert back cause my colleagues usually suggest PE for less formal gatherings and I missed the last one due to initial terror of eating out.

    It's great to hear that they had an acceptable version previously as my first experience was nearly my last.

  • Went on a trip to lego discovery and sea life at Trafford centre and ended up in PE. Yes, despite checking in advance, I have now (unfortunately) trialled the new bases and I agree they are absolutely disgusting - I can only liken them to eating undercooked lasagne sheets, kind of hard, chewy and slimy all at the same time. Truly awful. I called another member of staff over and asked again if the recipe had changed and he also said no, so I asked to return it and get another as it had clearly been cooked wrong (I was in two minds if this might be the issue and the texture was weird and it sort of looked and seemed a bit deep fried lol. Clearly I was also on a mission by this stage) another member of staff who was nearby overheard and came over and said they had changed and that she only knew because another customer complained and when she investigated she was told it was a trial. The supervisor came over and said they would deduct the pizza from my bill and then the manager came over and said he would be feeding it back to head office. My conversation with him also revealed that they had requested to be taken out of the trial and return to the original bases so I'm hoping that bad feedback and refunded charges will send a very strong message to their head office!

  • Until I get fed up with it I'm going to go into my usual (on expenses) PE every week and ask whether they have the old style bases back yet. If enough of us keep complaining and keep asking we might get them to change back. It's not like we have other menu choices. It's the old bases, or another restaurant!!!

  • I'm going to continue going and asking do you have the old gf bases, if they say no I'm going to walk, if like Trafford they say yes and I still get served that muck I'm going to say I'm not paying because I asked in advance because they are inedible. If enough people so this they will feel the pain of lost sales / wastage costs! Disappointing head office haven't responded ...

  • By the way, no reply from head office yet. It's been a while. Makes me even more negative towards Pizza Express.

  • I haven't tried these pizzas as Im a bit wary that they can avoid cross contamination! But I find that making your comments publicly on Facebook for example is a good way of getting the message across! They want to avoid negative feedback in public so you usually get a quick response!! I also use Trip Advisor to give feedback about good or poor gluten free restaurants, hotels etc - that way not only is it public but it gives other gluten free-ers info on where to choose! Gill

  • No worries about cross contamination as they only use GF flour to dust and shape ALL their pizzas. That's why I knew I could always depend on them, and why I'm particularly disillusioned that having gone to the trouble of getting their food handling right, the product itself has now been trashed.

    Don't do FB I'm afraid...

  • Update from Pizza Express:

    Thank you for letting us know about your experience when you dined recently

    at one of our restaurants. I'm sorry to learn that you were disappointed

    with our new gluten free bases.

    These bases are made exclusively for PizzaExpress in a gluten-free

    environment to ensure their quality and safety. We are always looking for

    ways to improve and having only recently introduced gluten-free bases to

    our menu, we will continue to develop this. Please be assured I have passed

    your comments on to our Food Team for future consideration.

    Should you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact us

    on 0207 563 7723

    Not really an answer, is it? At least not an answer to what I wrote. Anyway I rang the number and spoke to a nice young man called Dan who took the time to listen carefully to my feedback.

    Apparently this new base came about because they wanted to make their own GF bases in house and not buy them in: a matter of company pride etc etc. Anyhow I pointed out that I don't give a damn who makes it, as long as it tastes nice and had a good texture - like the original GF bases. Indeed the trial base is so poor it is damaging to their brand.

    To cut a long story short it sounds like everybody hates the new bases and he is collating the evidence to go back to management with it to see whether they will switch back in the trial outlets.

  • Did you go to Pizza Express since? My partner has been recently diagnosed, so we were looking for places where we could have a nice meal without problems and found about Pizza Express.

    He tried one of their pizze (it was smaller than mine) and seemed satisfied. I tried a bit too and, even though I could spot the difference, I thought it was pretty OK. Which, coming from a snotty Italian such as I, is probably pretty good. I'd say it was a bit more chewy than a normal pizza and a bit more wet, but not bad at all. If it weren't for the size, I'd be OK eating them (I try to eat gluten free for solidarity even though he said it's unnecessary and also because I'm afraid to contaminate the kitchen implements, when I cook and then clean).

    We tried Domino's and while it *looked* better than PE, it tasted pretty bad: there was a weird after taste that made me think of peas or something and the pizza was so dry it was like eating cardboard. Even though I had one with tuna, which usually makes the pizza really greasy. It was so bad that it actually tasted worse than all the gluten free pizze we bought in supermarkets.

    It would be nice to know where PE gets their bases, if they really buy them from a third party!

  • Hi Tiemme, PE settled on a slightly different recipe from the trial one, that has now been rolled out across all branches. It is not as bad as the pilot but still not a patch on the original externally sourced GF bases.

    I tried the replacement recipe in a few different Pizza Express outlets but none of them were consistent and I got fed up with giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    I will eat there now with colleagues if someone else decides that's where we are going, but I have not been back as a solo diner, or with my partner, or if I'm choosing where to eat for the team.

    They've lost me now.

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