Thursday, 10 July 2014

Franco Manca Brixton Village: where you can find the best pizza in London

I'm not particularly a fan of pizza but I'm quite particular with my pizza. I like the crust rolled extremely thin (crisp on the edges and doughy at the centre), the toppings fresh (three to four max), and the cheese proportionate. Proper Neapolitan-style. It's one of those things I crave for when I need a bit of comforting but I don't always get the perfect pizza unless I slave off in the kitchen to make my own.

When you've had proper pizza in Italy, particularly Neapolitan-style pizzas, it's quite a disappointment to come back to those thick, overly topped pizzas from commercial traders. Convenience is key, sure. But sometimes you just can't settle for anything less. Unless perfect means less is more.

Franco Manca is a legend. In 2008, a pizzeria opened in Brixton Market which was then exclusively a mecca of Afro-Caribbean shops. They were only open during lunchtimes and there was nothing over £8 on the menu. Today, with eight branches all over the city (the ninth opening this summer) and still nothing over £8 on the menu, Franco Manca has definitely marked its territory in London's food scene.

Ate T, who's always up for some comfort eating and gossiping, wanted to try these legendary pizzas so we went to visit the original (and still my favourite) branch in Brixton Market.

The menu is straightforward: six pizzas on offer and organic beverages two daily specials for vegetarians and carnivores, organic beverages (soft and alcoholic), and pure Arabica coffee. Ingredients are sourced from organic farms and artisan traders in the UK and Italy.

The crust is made from slow-rising sourdough baked in a special brick oven that produces a heat twice as hot as your normal oven and is very, very humid. This means it only takes about 40 seconds to cook your perfect pizza, the edges puffing up nicely and the insides still soft and chewy. I usually discard the pizza edges but this was way too good to throw away so I nibbled them with a bit of garlic/chilli-infused oils. Yum.

We decided to go for the specials that day. The meaty one had a margarita base (tomato and buffalo mozzarella), ricotta, five slices of cured meat, and topped with rocket. It sounds so simple compared to what you get with commercial pizzas (a heap load of toppings), but I've always thought less is more in the pizza world.

We also grabbed the vegetarian special of the day. Same margarita base, ricotta, aubergine, some wild mushrooms and rocket. I super enjoyed this. The aubergine had a smoky flavour that worked wonders.

We were very happy punters! Gulped our plates with organic Sangiovese (£3.50) and lemonade (£1.90).

It was too good. Total wipeout!

Purists, pizza fascists, and Neapolitan fans will definitely bask in pizza glee here. If you're more into the thick, commercial type, just give it a go and prepare to be mind blown. You'll never look at pizza the same way again.

Franco Manca
Brixton Village, etc
Unit 4 Market Row, London, SW9 | +44(0)20 7738 3021 (no deliveries, but you can call to take out)
Ave spend pp: £10
Franco Manca on UrbanspoonSquare Meal


  1. I've never heard of this place, I'd better add it to my list!

    1. Go try! They have loads of branches around London now. Best pizza ever!

  2. YES! That sums up my thoughts about Franco Manca pretty perfectly - love their pizza, and love living a bus ride away from the Chiswick branch even more :)

    1. I'm so happy a proper Italian can attest to this! :) Let's catch up soon, hun!