Pizza Express’s new offshoot, grab-and-go concept Za, has opened on Fenchurch Street. Managing director Zoe Bowley describes the launch as a bid to keep the brand “relevant in a fast changing market,” according to Big Hospitality. In some ways, Za is a return to its roots — the very first Pizza Express, which opened on Wardour Street in Soho in 1965, offered pizza by the slice.
Open from 7a.m. until late, Za’s menu expands on the Pizza Express formula with a ‘Pret Plus Plus’ approach. The pizzas — which include classics like La Reine and Pollo Ad Astra, as well as the more recently introduced vegan Giardiniera — are cooked ahead of time and sliced, then reheated when an order is placed — slices start at £3.80 for a serving of the Za-gherita. Breakfast choices include a bacon-filled piadina, topped porridges and and egg pots. Come lunchtime, options include an American Hot wrap, tomato-and-chilli soup, antipasti pots and mini ‘Luna’ pizzas topped with egg, ham, cheese and spinach. There are three different types of dough balls, and the drinks selection includes nitro matcha chai tea, and a Seedlip-and-gin cocktail.
Za is the group’s first offshoot since 2015: the last, now-closed Cambridge rotisserie chicken restaurant Reys, failed to fly. If the model proves successful the management have hinted that acquiring new sites is a plotted strategy, alongside converting some existing restaurants to grab-and-go. The restaurant group is one of few casual dining chains to have come through the recent crunch unscathed — this, coupled with bringing in something new, is a show of longevity from one of the high street’s stalwarts.