7 10 2012

As a rule, I try not to frequent nor write about chain restaurants. But Prezzo, now open in Anchor Square, is an exception. I was also at the Pizza Express in Clifton Vilage with my aunt, uncle and cousin last week, and at the Pizza Express in Corn Street with my daughter, her mum and a few friends the week before that, so my rule is not quite watertight.

Although there are more than 160 Prezzo restaurants across the UK from Aberdeen to Falmouth, this is the first to appear in Bristol since the first Prezzo opened in 2000.

Like Pizza Express, the restaurants are often housed in historic buildings. The building that Prezzo now occupies in Anchor Square, known for its large circular brick chimney, was originally built in 1884 as a leadworks.

Occupied until recently by Firehouse Rotisserie, Prezzo is sure to become a popular spot, offering not just pizza and pasta, but also plenty of special offers beloved of that other ubiquitous Italian chain.

During a Friday lunchtime visit this week, I ate the penne al pollo zafferano (£9.95), chunks of seasoned chicken, red chilli, spinach and garlic in a creamy saffron sauce.

A certain somebody who I shall not name as they had pulled a sickie at work chose something I never even knew existed, a vegetarian pizza (£8.95), with baby sunblushed tomatoes, grilled courgettes, roasted peppers, fresh rosemary, olives, mozzarella and tomato with pesto dressed baby spinach.

The pizzas at Prezzo are divided into three categories, classic (stone-baked), light (half the dough of classic served with a mixed salad) and VIPizza (bigger and crispier with more toppings, served with its own own pizza cutter).

Other choices for mains are calzone, burgers, rissoto and salads. Desserts from £4.95 include the Italian classic tiramisu and lemon torte with Sicilian lemons, while mini desserts from £3.50 are served with a hot drink.

The food that I tried on my first visit to Prezzo was typical of a chain, perfectly reasonable but not exceptional in a dining room most noticeable for its metal beams, and copper pipes both behind the bar and acting as dividing areas between the booths, where there are comfortable black leather banquettes.

Due to the high rents, this area of Bristol seems like a no-go area for independents. But even though Prezzo is part of a large national chain, the welcome and service were among the best I have ever received, a very promising sign in a restaurant which will almost certainly mean more breaking of my self-imposed rule.

Prezzo, Anchor Square, Bristol, BS1 5DB. 0117 909 1926.



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