The Golden Cross, Cornmarket, Oxford, OX1 3EX
- Recommended for:
- Backpackers / Students, Families with teenagers, Families with younger children, First-time travellers, Travellers with pets, Design and architecture, Shopping, Sightseeing, Trendiness
Best for Value for money - Expert review of Pizza Express
Pizza Express is a reliable UK chain that likes to set up shop in historic buildings. Few locations can be as exciting as the Grade II Listed Golden Cross Court in Oxford. This medieval coaching inn stands behind spiked gates built to keep the riff-raff out of Cornmarket. It first appeared in Oxford records in 1182 when it was known as Mauger's Hall. We know for certain that Shakespeare’s company played at the Golden Cross Court, so it is more than likely that the playwright passed under the same gateway from Cornmarket that visitors to Pizza Express use today. Abdel Koudoua, the manager, will proudly show you Renaissance wall coverings in the party room that resemble wall paintings in New Place, Shakespeare’s Stratford home. According to Abdel this proves that WS must have actually come inside the building now known as Pizza Express and copied down the design. I like Abdel very much and would like to believe him. He would certainly have treated Mr Shakespeare with the same quiet charm that he bestows on all his customers.
You get the same Pizza Express fare everywhere. Even in orbiting space stations in the year 2100, Pizza Express will still be offering pizza fiorentinas, calzones and leggeras. My favourite is the Venezia, as it allows me to think I am doing something to save Venice as I pile on the calories.
The wine list is reasonably priced and reliable. The basic house white is pinot grigio at the moment and eminently drinkable. Avoid the starters – dough-balls and olives – if you want value for money.
Always busy (and there’s always a child crying somewhere). The restaurant is up a modern spiral staircase and links together three old buildings. The first two are always open and the third – back towards Cornmarket – is the party room with Mr Shakespeare’s wallpaper.
There is a great private dining area high under the Tudor eaves if you’re putting together a party. It’s the haunt of college lunchtime drinking clubs. Ask Abdel Koudoua if he has time to show you around.
Everyone does their best but the place can get very busy.
On the pedestrianised Cornmarket, an ancient street that developers pretty much eviscerated with the usual High Street chains. However Golden Cross Court remained untouched at the south end near Carfax.
Allow around £10 per pizza.
There’s another, newer, Pizza Express in the grounds of Oxford Castle (01865 723400) by Malmaison but it lacks atmosphere. Many of the nearby towns also have Pizza Express outlets.
Visit www.pizzaexpress.com/our-restaurants/default.aspx to find one.
More information on Pizza Express:
- Price guide:
- The Golden Cross, Cornmarket, Oxford, OX1 3EX
- 01865 790442
- Lunch, Dinner
- Opening times:
- Mon-Sun 11.30am-11pm (Thurs-Sat open until 11.30pm); closed Christmas Day.
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Not necessary