Guangzhou: Which Pizzeria?

PIZZA HUT
District: Zhujiang New Town and Kecun to name two.
Pizza: Did not try

The decor is nice but apart from that this is probably the worst place to go for pizza.
Oh the irony, not even a Pepperoni (well a real one anyway) on the menu and who puts corn on a pizza for christ sakes!

PAPA JOHNS
District: Tianhe (Grand View Mall).
Pizza: Pepperoni

When these guys ran the specially priced Pepperoni they were unbeatable. One day I went and… new menu, all change and everything now way overpriced. Oh well, nothing lasts forever. Some good lunch deals and nibbles but beyond that there is seldom any point visiting.

SAIZERIYA
District: Several branches in the centre but also in other areas.
Pizza: Basilico Pizza (Chicken Basil/Pesto) / Milano Salami (Pepperoni) / Margherita

Depending on which branch of you visit the interiors can vary. I like the Wanguo outlet and Changgang (Dijing International mall/Haizhu Hopson Life Center) options the best. As I’ve mentioned previously Saizeriya is a god send to the budget eater. Italian food with an Oriental accent. The pizza remains the same in whatever locale you chose. Thicker crust, some, like the Basilico (pictured) can be greasy however for the price they’re ok, just don’t expect miracles.

THE TAVERN (now MORGANS)
District: Zhujiang New Town
Pizza: Pepperoni

I have eaten a good few meals at The Tavern, a reliable expat bar in Zhujiang New Town. All good save for the pizza. Now it wasn’t especially bad tasting, though in terms of presentation – if I order Pepperoni I do prefer to see it! This was one of those times it was buried under cheese. The other problem is that the pizza seemed to exist on two levels; the topping and the base. The cheese seemed to meld everything else together except the base which was so hard that the blunt fork couldn’t penetrate it. Since writing this the place has been rebranded as Morgans, though I don’t know if the food remains the same or not. If it is I’d advise against the pizza.

THE BREW
District: Zhujiang New Town
Pizza: Pepperoni / Meat Lovers

This one is a step up from The Tavern around the corner but still it’s a little formulaic. The meat lovers which yours truly sampled was very salty and with the kind of glossy seen in most Chinese supermarkets was a mission to finish! It filled a hole alright but it came with side effects resulting in my being a little ill the following day. So I’d avoid the pizza here as well as Morgan’s above. Their burgers are great if a little messy to consume! Other than that, this place does at least have light but is unfortunately a bit lax in its smoking policy.

BUONGIORNO
District: Taojin
Pizza: Pepperoni

This one has a more authentic Italiano feel to it than the others I mention with mother and baby wandering round the reception area, big tables and clean table cloths (surely they should have had some tomato stains on) and when I call by on a rainy Wednesday it is quiet and serene. I am in the unusual position of having one of said tables which overlooks the sodden square below to myself.

As it’s my first time at Buongiorno I opt for a standard pepperoni which is huge and comes with complimentary crispy bread. Staff are friendly and professional but only the main purser who may also be the owner speaks English. Watching umbrellas scurrying through the rain from the serenity of the restaurant above was great, bidding farewell and going out into it not so much but it’s one to keep on the radar for return visits.

LA CESAR
District: Several including Tianhe (Gangding and GZ East Station) and Kecun
Pizza: Mango Chicken / Pepperoni Lovers

One of the most common pizza chains in Guangzhou, I usually go there for their Mango Chicken which is really very good. One night after arriving at Guangzhou East I tried out their Pepperoni Lovers which was also palatable. Quite pricey but nice decor and reasonably attentive staff (depends on the who is working and what branch though).

PIZZA MARZANO
District: Liede (IGC Mall)
Pizza: Burro Burro

Now a touch of class in the newly opened IGC (International Grand City) mall in Guangzhou’s expat haven of Liede. To most of us its recognisable as Pizza Express; apparently they opted for the Marzano moniker purely because their tomato supplier is exclusive to them, which is admirable, loyal but an otherwise insane business model, what if the supplier turns nasty or goes awry? Personally I would have stuck to the recognised brand unless said supplier is in the process of buying out the brand or it’s a franchise. Anyways, the first thing you notice beyond the logo is the decor. Sparkling clean with gleaming deep blue glasses and pristine pepper mills in pilar box red. Though Italian there is something of a British mod vibe going on here with union flags and tracks by The Who dominating the playlist (makes a change from Norah bloody Jones though doesn’t it).

The staff are pleasant, efficient and can speak reasonable English BUT the biggest downside is that the pizza I wanted (La Regina) only comes in huge and is over 100rmb, why do they not offer alternative sizes? Instead I settled on Burro Burro which is also part of their Romano range and is half the price. Next door on the menu is the classic range though the choices don’t seem especially classic to me; no pepperoni? And since when has Char Siu been a classic pizza? Still overall a nice touch and worthy addition to Guangzhou’s expanding pizzeria scene. Complimenti to all involved. Another branch resides in the equally new and shiny Parc Central mall on Tianhe Lu and another at Shenzhen’s classy MixC.

OGGI
District: Liede (Canton Place) and also in Shenzhen
Pizza: Cooked Ham, Mozerella and Creamy Mushroom

At 118rmb, this was easily the most expensive of the lot. Was it good? Yes. Was it worth it? Not really. It could easily have been done for half that and though it is part of the very salubrious Canton Place I got the impression that the price was purely because of that. Add in some fancy outdoor umbrellas, pre-pizza nibbles, some cuts of fresh bread, some bread sticks and some super posh ornamental accoutrements like the olive oil pourer which also pours vinegar and hey presto you’re officially posh and ready to roll. Service, ok though again not superior eg guy who spends minutes ogling his work colleague instead of customers needing attention, all he had to do was look forward. Would I go back? Only if it was absolutely necessary.

TOMATOES
District: Liede (Xingsheng Road)
Pizza: Pepperoni and Bell Pepper

Despite that rather banal title and logo and the fact the chef and staff appear to be entirely Chinese, this is really not a bad pizza. It’s usually buzzing but on a faintly chilly rainy January day I’m pretty much the only patron during this, my first visit. One look in the battered hard back menu displays quite a range from Truffle to Portofino, Sicilian to Piccante as well as varying smoked meat options: Beef, Ham and Turkey. These all come in small, medium and large and cost between 47 and 90rmb – the most expensive reserved for the fresh Salmon. Other dishes include breakfast, salads, soups and pasta. No dessert (that I noted anyway). They’re also open 24 hours so if you’re an insomniac or you’ve arrived in Guangzhou on a late flight and feel the need for a pizza at 3am then this would be your place. Parmesan and Tabasco supplied but surprisingly no water. Just as well I had my own.

THE PIZZA FACTORY
District: Haizhu (Zone B, Fuli Haizhu City Mall)
Pizza: Salami and assorted meats

The odds on this being a goody came before I got there. It is the only pizzeria that I’ve smelt before hand – a good sign and like the now defunct Ken’s the pizza was freshly made before me. On my first visit I was greeted by an American chef (though there are plenty of Chinese staff). I later find he is in fact an entrepreneurial whizz! Anyway getting back to the pizza this place is a bit like Subway, meaning you can choose your own toppings. Service is pretty quick though it was late afternoon when I got there. Also groovy house music playing in the bright and super clean decor. It ain’t cheap but it was justified! Go check out the factory. 3rd floor of the new Fuli Haizhu City Mall.

CHAMPION PIZZA
District: Several city wide
Pizza: American Sausage and Mozzarella (ie Pepperoni)

This is the one I most dreaded. On moving to Guangzhou I noticed this place in a part of town the metro doesn’t yet reach. I passed it off as cheap and cheerful place where the pizza was most likely akin to the glossy round things found in most supermarkets. Fast forward a year and their American Sausage is surprisingly reasonable if a touch bland – they might have added some black olives to liven it up a bit but beyond that not too bad. Freshly made and hot enough to burn a hole in your mouth. The only thing lacking in the class department is the paper plate and plastic fork. No water or extras.

MAMMAMIA
District: Zhujiang New Town
Pizza: Diavola (more or less a pepperoni)

It’s freshness was definitive! No argument there and it was real tomatoes all the way but that also made it a touch bland (again some herb or black olive would have made a nice addition). Nonetheless the pastry was amazing and the splodges of Mozzerella were good too. Staff ok and efficient. This is so far the only branch south of Shanghai though a little tricky to find due to the way the huge inter-linking underground metro malls are designed. Not far from the IFC and Four Seasons hotel should you be fortunate enough to be staying there.

All of the pizzas were paid for myself.
Opinions are my own and were not biased or based on freebies.

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