Pizza Express

42 The Market Pl, Devizes SN10 1HT

01380 723336

Parking: In Market Place

Disabled access: yes

Our ratings:

Food: 7/10

Choice: 7/10

Decor: 8/10

Customer service: 9/10

Main course prices: From £8.90 to £13.20

Trip Advisor rating: 3.5/5

EIGHT years ago when PizzaExpress first opened a restaurant in Devizes it was big news in town as until that point chain restaurants had opted for Marlborough or Chippenham when coming to central Wiltshire.

Even McDonald's at the height of its expansion frenzy had failed to find Devizes a suitable location and instead opted for Melksham so Devizes people welcomed the pizza big boys with enthusiasm when they took over a former Radio Rentals shop.

But the outlet in the Market Place although big and airy and well designed was not a hit with everyone as many visitors felt the pizzas were not as well cooked as they were down the road in Old Town, Swindon.

A few months ago PizzaExpress decided it was time for a makeover for the Devizes branch and spent quite a bit of cash giving it a more contemporary and industrial feel with part metal chairs and ceramic tables. Pictures reflect the influence of jazz fan and art lover Peter Boizot who founded the restaurant chain 50 years ago in Soho.

I decided to check out if the new decor had meant any other changes to the overall customer experience in Devizes. I visited on a weekday evening with my daughter when the restaurant was reasonably busy without pushing staff to the limits.

The welcome was particularly friendly and this set the scene for a pleasant evening with attentive service. The drinks of Diet Coke and a glass of white wine arrived promptly while we decided what to eat.

Many people say that branches of chain restaurants hardly differ but in my experience they are made or broken by their staff and on this criteria alone Devizes was on to a winner with the waitresses being friendly and efficient without being pushy.

We decided to share calamari with Çaesar dressing priced at £5.85 as a starter. These were a bit of a disappointment as instead of being crispy on the outside and juicy inside they were just a bit limp.

On to the mains and my favourite in PizzaExpress is American but I did on this occasion decide to go for the Romana base at £11.95 instead of the classic at £9.65 while my daughter also went down the Romana route but had the Pollo ad Astra at £12.50. As you can imagine hers had chicken as a main ingredient but also featured Peppadew peppers, red onion, mozzarella and tomato but Francesca being Francesca it was not possible to order without asking for a slight variation.

On this occasion it was the fairly straight forward request of no peppers and this was greeted with a pleasant 'of course' from out server. I have had quite a few American pizzas in my time and some of the very best have been at PizzaExpress. Back in the chain's early days my late mum and I were regulars at the branch near the river in Kingston and this is still my benchmark.

Devizes did not quite live up to the ones served at those leisurely Saturday lunchtimes but it was pretty good. Francesca was also happy with her chicken variety so it is likely we will be back fairly soon. The bill came to just over £30 for two without drinks.