Snapshots from the UK: Pizza Express's Leggera Pizzas


Some things are supposed to have a hole in the center. Like a bagel. Or a donut.

But what about a pizza?

I am not one of those eaters who shun chain restaurants for the sake of being an indie foodie. I follow my gut, and my gut often takes me to Pizza Express, a ubiquitous British chain of pizza restaurants (with the usual menu supplements of salads and pastas) that serves thin-crusted, gourmet-topped personal pizzas. In fact, I eat pizza from Pizza Express so often while I'm in the UK at school that I began to feel a bit guilty about it. You've heard of the freshman fifteen; I was worried it might snowball into the grad school fifty.

So, when I saw that Pizza Express had cut out the inner half of their pizzas and replaced them with a salad, I was pretty pleased. There are plenty of eaters who would demand, "What have you done with the rest of my pizza!" But for me, the little nest of baby spinach and arugula at the heart of my pie was a welcome garden surprise.

There are three Leggera pizzas on the menu, each at only 500 calories (if you're counting). The outside ring is still crisp, and crusty, and has a substantial amount of real cheese, and fresh tomatoes, and sauce. But the inside, the usually soggy bit that you have to eat because it's good pizza but isn't as good as the rest, has been replaced with a bright, honest salad that's frankly welcome and refreshing (and, shh, healthy!). I order the Margherita Leggera religiously. I now think of pizza like bagels and donuts, or wedding rings and tires: something that only works with a hole in the middle.

What do you think? Would you prefer half a pizza with a salad in the middle?