Does Moseley really need two new Italian restaurants almost next door to each other?
First Prezzo opened in Alcester Road earlier this summer in what was a garage.
Then last week it was joined by Pizza Express in a converted tanning salon, just feet away separated only by the burger restaurant One Trick Pony.
The main thing that strikes you is how similar they are. It will be interesting to see whether they will both get enough trade to survive.
They have similar decor with ornate wood panelling on the walls, similar layouts with open kitchens at the back and outside seating at the front, and almost exactly the same background music.
The menus are alike too. But which is better? We put both to the test by ordering similar pizzas.
Food and drink
We ordered a classic margherita pizza for £7.99 with a £1.89 topping of pulled pork, totalling £9.88.
It measured 29.5cm across.
It wasn’t very hot when it arrived and was cold by the time we finished eating it.
I really liked the thin pizza base and the pulled pork topping was very tasty.
The basic tomato and cheese margherita ingredients weren’t much to shout about, though – rather bland. A margherita on its own without any topping to jazz it up would be boring.
A pint of draught Peroni cost £5.19 but tasted a little off, as if it was the first draw of the night and had been hanging around in the pipes.
We ordered a classic margherita for £8.10 along with a £1.60 topping of spicy Nduja sausage, totalling £9.70.
It measured 25cm, smaller than Prezzo.
It had a thicker base and better basic ingredients which had much more of a presence – big oozy mouthfuls of molten mozzarella cheese.
The Nduja sausage was just the right amount of spicy, too.
A 660ml bottle of Peroni was quite a bit more expensive than Prezzo at £6.90 (£6.03 equivalent volume) but tasted better.
The staff were friendly and the pizza arrived promptly within 15 minutes of ordering.
They were a bit too quick to clear away though while we still had food left. Considering the restaurant was less than a third full, I’m not sure why they were in such a rush to get rid of us.
Staff were friendly but not quite as on the ball. A waitress tried to give our pizza to the table next to us and the waiter admitted he didn’t know the difference between two types of spicy sausage.
They didn’t bring out the requested side plates at the first attempt or the pizza wheel helpfully supplied by Prezzo.
Prezzo is pleasant with great light fittings over a central bar, but almost empty when we arrived at 6.40pm and didn’t get that much fuller.
Pizza Express was a lot busier by 7.20pm and felt much more buzzy. The tables are closer together, which adds to the fun atmosphere for friends and families but means it’s not such a good place for an intimate date – Prezzo is more romantic and even has candles on the tables.
Prezzo is slightly better value for money, as its basic pizza was cheaper without toppings and bigger.
Its menu is more varied, with more pasta dishes, but if you’re in the market for a pizza then Pizza Express – the clue is in the name – offers more choice and, I think, better ingredients.
And the atmosphere is better at Pizza Express, although it may get less busy as the initial novelty wears off.
Overall, Pizza Express would be my choice if you’re not counting the pennies or wanting a romantic date.