We try new Highcross Pizza Punks to find out if they offer “the ultimate cool pizza experience”

From sourdough pizzas and fresh pastas with unlimited toppings to innovative craft cocktails and mocktails – the latest addition to the Highcross Mall certainly seems to have an enticing offering. Pizza Punks launched in St. Peter’s Square in mid-March, and after getting an exclusive preview, I was already feeling impressed with how the place looked.

The question was, would the food be as good as the environment? I couldn’t wait to find out, so I reserved a table for a family meal one evening.

The resthaving



First Look at Pizza Punks

Great to see new openings coming to St. Peter’s Square in the heart of Highcross. For the past few months, several units have been empty, following the closure of other restaurants. Pizza Punks is a very cool place, with neon lights, graffiti, monochromatic brick tiles and greenery hanging from the ceiling.

READ MORE: We try the pub which is the best place to eat in Leicester according to Tripadvisor

According to the brand, it aims to provide “the ultimate cool pizza experience”. The Leicester branch is the fifth restaurant launched by Pizza Punks, which already has branches in Glasgow, Belfast, Newcastle and Leeds.

We received a warm welcome from the member of staff who greeted customers as they entered, and he took us to our table and left us some menus.

Food and drink

Pizza Punks is known for its unlimited toppings and San Franciscan sourdough bases. Its sourdough is made from a mature starter culture sourced from San Francisco, which the brand says has a stronger, more distinctive taste. The dough is homemade daily and proofed for at least 48 hours for maximum flavor.

There is an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant and my boys loved that they could watch the chefs preparing the pizza bases, stretching the dough in the air, adding a bit of theater to the process.

There are plenty of choices on the menu, with a number of classic and special pizzas, such as Margherita, pepperoni, carbonara (with white sauce, fior di latte, crispy pancetta, egg, cracked black pepper and parmesan) and cheeseburger (with Mozzarella, meatballs, burger relish, burger sauce, diced onions, pickles, and American cheese) – which my husband was keen to try. Or, you can choose your own sauce and toppings and have your own custom ‘punk up’ pizza made for a flat rate (£11) at no extra cost – and that’s what I decided to do.



my punk pizza
my punk pizza

Toppings include lemon and herb chicken, rum ham hock, meatballs, garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes, caramelized pineapple, olives, gorgonzola and blood sausage black. Plant-based options include BBQ pulled jackfruit, vegan ‘nduja, vegan pepperoni, and vegan Tuscan sausage.

With a son who doesn’t eat meat, I was really impressed with the vegetarian and vegan options, and especially the fact that everything is made from A to Z, right down to the vegan meat substitutes and cheese.

Of course, when it comes to those “unlimited” and “all you can eat” type offers, it’s easy to get carried away. However, I was trying to be aware of which flavors would work together! After a bit of consideration, I opted for the barbecue sauce, plus the mushrooms, olives, red onion, sun-dried tomato, caramelized pineapple, rum ham hock, and barbecued pulled jackfruit.

Fresh pasta is also available, handmade in the restaurant every day. As with the pizzas, there are classics and specialties, such as the rigatoni of beef shank and the Chianti stew and the linguine of prawns, zucchini, chilli and garlic. Alternatively, customers can ‘spice up’ their pasta with a choice of unlimited sauces and toppings, for a fixed price of £9.

There are small plates and sides such as Punks Antipasto Plate, Smoked Chilli Garlic Cheese Focaccia, Buffalo Chicken Wings and Punk mac ‘n’ cheese – and we decided to share part of the latter (£5).

The kids’ menu has a good selection, with mains including macaroni and cheese and spaghetti in tomato sauce (£5 each) or they can make their own pizza for £7. My two boys wanted pizza, and although there were nine toppings available, they only wanted one each! My youngest went for the meatballs and my oldest couldn’t wait to try the vegan pepperoni.

The drinks menu offers as much choice as the food menu, with craft beers from breweries such as Beavertown and Camden, and craft cocktails, including Drumstick Caiprisma, with vanilla infused rum, raspberry rum, fresh lime juice, served with a retro pestle, Dead Punks’ Society, made with Bacardi, Bacardi spices, pineapple, passion fruit, grenadine, lime and fire, and Blue Monday , with pineapple-infused tequila, blue curacao, lime, passion fruit and chili salt.

There’s also a great selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, including Double Bubble, made with gum-infused pep seeds, non-alcoholic sweet vermouth, rhubarb, lemon and rosemary bubble, Candy Cloud , with seeds pips, strawberry, vanilla and sour lemon cotton candy, and Broken Hearts Club, with seeds infused with Love Heart, raspberries, lemon and Love Hearts.



Caiproska love heart
Caiproska love heart

I was keen to try the Cherry Sherbet cocktail (£8) but it wasn’t available so opted for the Love Heart Caiproska (£8) which was a good choice. It had a lovely sweet and fruity flavor, with Love Heart infused vodka, limoncello, raspberry, lemon and even a tube of Love Heart candy on top.

Simon enjoyed his half pint of Bluemoon wheat beer (£2.60) and with no lemonade available the boys both had a small Pepsi Max (£1.80).

Punk mac n cheese was the first dish to appear on our table, and wow, it was good! With a combination of ripe cheddar, parmesan and mascarpone, it was wonderfully rich and cheesy, with a serious hint of cheese. There also seemed to be a lot of garlic in the mix, but that wasn’t a problem as we all love that kind of stuff.



mac'n cheese
mac’n cheese

Our four pizzas soon followed, and they looked wonderful, especially the Cheeseburger, which even had American cheese drizzled in the shape of the “A” in the Pizza Punks logo. Our waitress was already raving about the quality of this pizza, and she wasn’t wrong.

Simon was very impressed with the combination of toppings – mozzarella, meatballs (which were lean and flavorful), burger relish, burger sauce, diced onions and pickles – which looked very much like a cheeseburger. I enjoyed the little taste I got of this one, but I was even more impressed with my own creation, which in my mind was a Hawaiian punk! I really enjoyed the sweet tasting jackfruit and the rum hack hock was superb. You could tell it was good quality meat and had a delicious flavor.



Vegan Pepperoni Kids Pizza
Vegan Pepperoni Kids Pizza

There was a zesty flavor from the sun-dried tomatoes and the caramelized pineapple not only added sweetness but also a spicy kick from the chili flakes that the fruit pieces were coated with. It was unexpected but pleasant.

My eldest son was very impressed with the homemade vegan pepperoni and eagerly ate his pizza. My youngest was also happy with his choice and managed most of his meatball pizzas. Either way, the pizza bases were a nice combination of chewiness and crispiness, with a pleasant, distinctive sourdough taste.

For kids, dessert choices include vanilla ice cream with their choice of sauce and sprinkles (£3) or a Punks ice cream sandwich. My boys both chose ice cream with sauce and sprinkles (one with strawberry sauce and rainbow sprinkles and one with chocolate sauce and rainbow sprinkles) rainbow) and for 3 it was a generous portion.

As for the adult desserts, however, the disappointment was headed our way. I was keen to try the delicious chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich, which Simon and I were going to share. However, the waitress delivered the blow they had exhausted. Nor was our second choice of candied bacon creme brulee.

Too full to handle the caramel Biscoff pizza, we decided to try the caramelized pineapple cheesecake (£6). Unfortunately, I was not a fan. I found the topping to be too dense with a gooey texture, and while I enjoyed the chili-laden pineapple on the pizza, I didn’t like it on the cheesecake. Simon enjoyed the cheesecake a little more than me, so I left it to him to finish!



Caramelized pineapple cheesecake
Caramelized pineapple cheesecake

Verdict

It was difficult to score. We really enjoyed the pasta and pizza and thought the surroundings were great and the service from the friendly staff was very efficient, despite the restaurant being very busy. However, there were a few things that weren’t available which had a slightly negative effect on our visit – the pudding part in particular!

I wavered between a three and a four, but because there were more positives than negatives, I think it deserves a 4/5 – especially since it’s a pizzeria and that the pizzas were really very good. Prices, especially £11 for a pizza with as many toppings as you like, are competitive.

As the restaurant has only just opened, I attribute these supply issues to the fact that it has been busier than expected. I’d be back for more of these sourdough pizzas – and I’m crossing my fingers that I can try the ice cream cookie sandwich next time!

Our rating: 4/5

Food hygiene classification: Awaiting inspection