Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Review: Franco Manca (probably the best pizza in London)
I’m always keeping my ear to the ground (or my eye to the Twitterz) for restaurant recommendations, and for ages now I’ve been hearing good things about Franco Manca. After reading this review from CitizenM Bankside, I was even more tempted to try it, and as I had tickets to the excellent Sofie Hagen’s stand-up show at the Soho Theatre, it seemed like perfect timing to pop by the Berwick Street branch first for a bite to eat.
First thing’s first: this is seriously good value food. We ordered starters, sides and mains, plus a bottle of wine to share, and spent under £55 between us. And we didn’t need to order that much, either – just a pizza each would have been enough, and those are all under £7. And they are GOOD pizzas. If you’ve ever eaten pizza in Italy, you’ll probably remember noticing how much flavour the tomato sauce has (something that none of the major chains – even the more upmarket ones known for doughballs - seem to come close to). Franco Manca definitely matches that flavour though – we could have easily been crammed into a Florence pizzeria.
To start, we had a few of their ‘nibbles’ (they don’t do starters, as such). These change regularly, and aren’t on the main menu, only a specials board on the wall. We chose the antipasti board and the burrata, plus a bread basket to share.
FYI – you don’t need the bread basket. Both come with bread, but we still managed to eat it all, because we are heroes. The burrata was basically life changing. Next time I go, I’d probably order that to myself – super creamy mozzarella, gooey in the middle, on crispy ciabatta with a little salad. Yum. As their website says, their mozzarella is produced daily and has a short shelf life as it’s so fresh.
It’s clear what my favourite starter was, but the antipasti board was also great – the meat was amazing quality, and they included the unusual touch of a lemon wedge to squeeze over it. Actually, parma ham and lemon is a pretty excellent combination. And the bread was lovely too – fresh, warm and the perfect combination of soft and crispy.
We ordered both the side salads to share – mixed leaf salad with alfalfa sprouts, and Franco’s pecorino, olives and mixed leaves. They’re actually the same salad, just one of them comes with olives and pecorino. Lovely and fresh though, and the dressing was really tasty (there really isn’t much to say about salad, is there?).
Pizza time! I ordered one of the specials – parma ham and stilton – and Anne ordered the no.5 (tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives and anchovies). My pizza was not supposed to come with tomato sauce, but at the point of order they asked if I was ok with that and offered to add it on – I’m so glad I did, as it was SO good. I don’t really know what it would have been like without that amazing tomato sauce, and I don’t want to. The pizzas were excellent, like I said earlier – very authentically Italian, and incredible value for money. There isn’t an enormous choice, but all the classics are there, plus a few more unusual options in the specials. Works for me – I’m often not a fan of a huge menu, it can get overwhelming, don’t you think?
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t have any room for dessert – but the only choice was tiramisu, which I’m not a fan of anyway, so that suited me fine. The service was amazing though – super friendly, super helpful (I loved the fact they gave me the option of modifying my pizza straight off!) and super quick - we were in and out within an hour.
So overall, I highly recommend Franco Manca – I mean, just LOOK at those photos. Best pizza in London? Yep, I’m calling it.
Franco Manca has restaurants all over London. This post was written in conjunction with CitizenM Bankside, who covered the cost of our meal in exchange for this honest review.
© Essbeevee | Hertfordshire, London, St Albans, Tring food, lifestyle, interiors & travel blog. All rights reserved.