We tried the Cardiff restaurant where Eva Longoria had the best pasta she’s ever eaten – Ed Gilbert

There’s an Italian restaurant in Cardiff that Hollywood star Eva Longoria says serves the best pasta anywhere in the world. And apparently it’s family owned too. You’d be forgiven for thinking this hot tip must be somewhere like Casanova, Cafe Citta or even Bacareto, highly-regarded faces in Cardiff’s independent restaurant […]

There’s an Italian restaurant in Cardiff that Hollywood star Eva Longoria says serves the best pasta anywhere in the world. And apparently it’s family owned too.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this hot tip must be somewhere like Casanova, Cafe Citta or even Bacareto, highly-regarded faces in Cardiff’s independent restaurant scene.

But no, it’s Pizza Express.

The chain restaurant with over 470 branches across the UK was recommended by Eva whilst she was in the country filming the BBC comedy Decline and Fall in 2017. At least that’s what Jack Whitehall says.




Read more: Why Italian restaurant Casanova is the most ‘underrated gem’ in Cardiff

With such high praise from a global celebrity, I thought I’d better head to Cardiff’s Pizza Express and find out whether it lives up to the hype.

When I visited the High Street branch around 5pm on a Wednesday there were a fair few diners already enjoying an early dinner. From what I saw, most people were eating pizza.

When I mentioned to the friendly server that I’d be ordering pasta because Eva Longoria said it’s the best around, she smilingly agreed.

As all of my previous visits to Pizza Express have been for pizza, it took me a little while to find their pasta dishes in the bottom corner of the menu. With only four pasta options available, I wonder what Eva ordered on her visit – was it the bolognese or perhaps the cannelloni?



Menu at Pizza Express Cardiff

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before we got to the main event I ordered a garlic bread with mozzarella (£5.45). Crisp and doughy and topped with a thin slick of melted cheese it was a pleasant yet unremarkable introduction to the meal. With only a whisper of garlic, I’d certainly have preferred a bigger honk of the stuff.



Garlic bread with mozzarella from Pizza Express Cardiff

Okay onto the pasta, and it’s probably worth stating the obvious that the pollo pesto (£12.95) isn’t going to win any prizes for authenticity or visual appeal. The dish’s time spent in the pizza oven had made the pasta tubes soft textured with no hint of bite except for the crisped edges.

But it certainly had an addictive quality. The combination of soft pasta, tender chicken, sweet red onion, and a rich, creamy, herby and cheesy sauce with stringy mozzarella and funky Gran Milano cheese certainly kept me going back for more. Perhaps Eva was onto something after all.



Pollo pesto from Pizza Express Cardiff

Dessert continued the theme of enjoyable averageness. A light, creamy and tangy baked cheesecake (£4.95) was sat on a slightly soft-bottomed base and topped with crisp caramel popcorn and a sticky salted caramel sauce. A scoop of rich caramel gelato was let down by a scattering of grainy ice crystals dotted throughout.



Salted caramel cheesecake from Pizza Express Cardiff

My bill for three courses came to £23 and it made me realise I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price at Pizza Express with the number of offers which are normally available. I wonder if Eva had a Tesco Clubcard reward voucher on her visit.

I had a tasty yet ultimately pretty average meal at Pizza Express and I’m struggling to see how it serves the best pasta in Cardiff let alone the world. Whilst I can of course understand its popularity as a family friendly pizza destination, it’s not somewhere I’d recommend for game changing pasta.

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Sharron Hermanson

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