It was an awfully long wait for one of the UK’s favourite pizza houses to open its doors at The Lagoon in Amwaj.
For months and months and even more months, the sign was up, the chairs were in but… still no pie.
Then, just a couple of months ago, at last, the wait was over and it was finally here. But could the pizzas possibly be as good, as thin, as crispy, the toppings as plentiful without being overdone, the mozzarella as delicately ripe, the tomatoes as sweet as in my local Pizza Express at home.
I’m happy to report that the answer is a resounding yes.
A pal and I wandered over to The Lagoon on a midweek night expecting it to be quiet, instead it was bustling with kids tearing around on rented bicycles and workers busily setting up for the weekend market.
The menu is so huge, we were initially at a loss but our server was more than happy to answer all our questions explaining the most popular dishes and showing us pictures from the handy flip book on the page – enough to make our mouths water.
For starter I went for the baked mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola cream, grana padano (Italy’s favourite hard cheese) and garlic.
Sizzling on a skillet swimming in garlic oil and melted cheese they were a true taste explosion, the strength of the cheeses perfectly complimented by the piquant garlic – and they’re certainly not shy with the garlic! They came with dough balls, probably the only disappointment of the evening since they were a bit dry and tough but a liberal dosing of more of the garlic oil, that our server had helpfully left on the table, and all was good.
My dining companion chose bruschetta con funghi, toasted Italian bread topped with closed-cup and Portobello mushrooms in bechamel cream with red onions and balsamic. Silence from her side of the table told its own story.
To be honest the starters were actually the stars of the evening with the pizzas – and yes they were as succulent, tasty, thin crusted and crispy – as more of a supporting act.
I went for the Romano diavolo – spicy beef, red onions, Tabasco, jalapenos and mozzarella with tomato sauce. To be honest I wished I’d asked them to hold the jalapenos, which they’ll do quite happily, but the point of the diavolo is that it’s supposed to be spicy and it certainly lived up to its name.
My pal went for pomodoro with pesto, basil, baby mozzarella, garlic oil and tomato sauce. Being somewhat braver than I, she added pepperoni and extra chilli flakes and going slightly off menu caused no consternation at all and created a pie that was exactly to her liking.
My only slight grumble is that the mains arrived literally as they cleared our starter plates and it would’ve been nice to have the chance to digest a little between courses.
But to be honest, that Pizza Express lived up to expectations and the food was downright delicious made up for it.
It was also lovely to see that they let kids make their own pizzas, as we sat on the outside terrace we could see lots of little ones up at the counter, aprons on, bashing out their own dough and choosing their own toppings – almost, but not quite, made me wish I had some sprogs to take along.
To drink, I went for a strawberry daiquiri which, given that it’s alcohol free, tasted remarkably like the real thing.
The bill (for two) Bruschetta fungi BD2.250 Baked mushrooms BD2.500 Diavolo pizza BD4.500 Pomodoro pizza (plus pepperoni) BD4.500 Strawberry daiquiri BD1.950 2 large waters BD1.900 Total (inc tax) BD18.250
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com