Pretty much everyone loves a pizza, but there are so many different ones about, which are the very best that the UK has to offer? The must-tries for the pizza aficionado? From classics like Pizza Express (selling over 21 million pizzas last year alone) to independent shops that serve a loyal customer base of locals, there are countless places to grab your favourite slice. But where is best?
Pizza Express is what most people think of when they go out for pizza. It’s tasty, it’s varied, and it’s reasonably affordable on a uni budget. I wouldn’t say it’s the best out there, but it certainly has some delicious options, and it caters for vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten-free folks, so it’s the safe and secure option.
My favourite pizza from here is a relatively new and left-field addition to the menu. The carbonara pizza (not with the pasta – believe me, I worried about this when I ordered it) has tons of flavour, is creamy but not too heavy and, as if that wasn’t good enough, comes with an egg on top.
Their other triumphs include the American Hot, a spicy twist on the classic pepperoni, the Padana, balanced sweet and bitter flavours of goats’ cheese and caramelised onion on a thin base; and pollo forza, a spicy chicken pizza not for the faint of tastebuds!
You either love them, or you hate them. They get a bad rap for their prices but still attract die-hard fans among students for their meal deals, being a good sharing size and the vegan and gluten-free options extend beyond vegetable supreme or nothing. Personally, I love them for large group gatherings as they make great sharing options, and not too pricey if split between lots of people.
The Big Philly Cheesesteak is something I have heard a lot about recently. I think it’s one of the braver options, there’s a lot of flavours going on there, and texture-wise, it’s got a lot of different toppings. But it’s creamy, flavourful and something different to tell your friends about! Likewise, Chicken and Camembert is a relatively new addition to the menu and might sound like too many rich ingredients in one to make for an excellent pizza, but I have to disagree. It is perhaps less flavourful that the Cheesesteak, but works just as well in the combination of crispy chicken pieces and smooth Camembert.
For veggies, I wholeheartedly recommend two pizzas: Avocado Veg and Veg Trio. I will confess to not having tried the Avocado veg as it is brand new on the menu, but veggies rarely get to try something new when it comes to pizza. The Veg Trio is a classic, delicious and one of the healthier options. Finally, I cannot talk about Domino’s without mentioning The Burger pizza. Everyone is instantly curious when they hear about burger meat on pizza, and it isn’t what you expect.
I write about Zizzi’s to rave about one thing and one thing only – their Fiorentina pizza. Fiorentina pizza, if you don’t know, has cheese, spinach and, most crucially, an egg in the middle. I’ve included this twice on the list now and, as weird as it sounds, do not knock it ‘til you try it. It’s delicious. In general, their pizza is excellent, especially their famous calzones, but Fiorentina knocks the rest out of the park. Oh, and their courgette fries are incredible!
As much as we know and love the UK’s most prominent names in pizza delivery, it’s always good to support local businesses. They may well be struggling at the moment, and they need plenty of support from residents, including students.
Address: various London locations
It’s hard to pick just one place that encapsulates all of the brilliant independent pizza places in London, so I haven’t tried to do that. There are literally hundreds of family-owned businesses selling pizza across London, all with their own recipes and menus that can’t really be compared in such a short space. So I have found something a bit different. What Yard Sale do is cook handmade pizza in authentic ovens, and guests can enjoy their delicious meal in a vibrant, social setting. Having grown from just one oven in its founder’s back yard to venues all over London and a large fan base, including (according to their website) Macaulay Caulkin. Pizza is a student staple and, as a student centre in the UK, London is a great place to find yummy pizza. Yard Sale is definitely a good place to start.
Address: 21 High St, Harborne, Birmingham, B17 9NT
Situated in the beautiful area of Harborne (the nearest student accommodation is UoB’s Prichatt’s Park), The Plough is popular with both students and year-round residents. Which is no surprise, when they are serving delicious, handmade pizza with a range of toppings and gluten-free/vegan/veggie options on offer as well. Currently, they have a reduced menu, but you can still grab some of our favourites from The Plough. These include the Chili, Njuda and Caramelised Onion pizza and the Cherry Tomato and Basil for veggies. If you’re a bit of a foodie, their Wild Mushroom and Truffle Oil is something of an adventure for the taste buds!
Address: 2 Campbell Square, Liverpool, L1 5FB
In lovely Campbell Square, Amalia offers its customers crispy, homemade pizza with gluten-free and vegetarian options available. My particular favourites are the Pizza Julietta – a base infused with tomato and mozzarella, topped with mushroom, goats cheese, sweet potato fries and courgette. Great for vegetarians looking for something a bit different or, if you do eat meat, try the Pollo al Caprino, a combination of diced chicken, goats cheese and aubergine. They also serve a selection of calzones and pasta. With outside seating and lots of other options, if pizza isn’t your thing, any Liverpool-based students should give this a go.
Address: 2 Pen-Y-Lan Road, Cardiff, CF24 3PF
I love Cardiff’s restaurant scene. It has some fantastic independent places and doesn’t get enough love in comparison to larger cities of the UK. Da Mara encompasses everything that I love about Cardiff restaurants, it is cosy, colourful and a great place to experience what Cardiff has to offer in terms of Italian food. My favourite pizza that they serve is the Nuccio, a reasonably light dish made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Gorgonzola salami and red onions. If you’d prefer something a bit heavier, they have a few must-try pizzas – Cotto e Funghi, tomato sauce, ham, mushrooms and mozzarella, Meat Feast, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami, salami ham; or Quattro Stagioni – tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms, olives and ham. Whatever you like, if you’re in Cardiff and want to sample some amazing local pizza, Da Mara should definitely be on your list.
Now, obviously, there are huge numbers of amazing pizza places in every city in the UK, and I haven’t even begun to cover them here. These are just some of the great places you can find pizza in student cities, for a range of dietary requirements and price ranges. If your uni is a long way from a large city, then you are likely to have a pizza chain as the nearest one to you, but if you live somewhere bigger, you might like to try an independent place, shake up your pizza routine!