I’ve heard good things about the sourdough pizza bases at Franco Manca so my gentleman companion and I finally thought we’d see for ourselves.
The original restaurant in Brixton doesn’t take reservations, so as we’ve had just about enough of queueing for our dinner recently, we booked a table at their Chiswick branch.
We arrived on a Saturday evening and it was packed and very noisy. People were wandering round the restaurant with babies in their arms making us wonder if we’d walked in to a mother and baby session. It had a manic buzz which we soon embraced.
We sat at a table which was practically joined to another table of two. We had to share the cutlery and napkins that were provided in a tin, along with some chilli and olive oil but these were placed on the wrong side of our neighbour’s table. After awkwardly interrupting their conversation for all of this, our starters arrived.
A meat platter of wild boar ham, wild boar mortadella and Gloucester Old Spot home cured ham with rocket, grated pecorino and slivers of bread were served on a wooden board and tasted great. With our newly acquired oils drizzled over, it tasted even better as it would have been a tad dry otherwise.
We also ordered the baked garlic bread (£4.50). The very friendly waitress warned us that it was quite large and might be too much along with the meat platter but we assured her we would finish the lot – which we did. It was distinctly average, lacking a garlic punch and it was very dry. The chilli and olive oil really saved the day.
I ordered the tomato, cured organic chorizo (dry & semi dry) and mozzarella pizza (£6.95). I found the middle of the pizza to be delicious – the chorizo was fantastic quality and seriously flavoursome and the gooey mozzarella was generously placed but the crusts were very doughy and undercooked. Even when dunked in more of the oil we’d become obsessed with the crusts just weren’t crispy enough which was a shame.
My gentleman companion had a white pizza (with no tomato sauce) which had broccoli, mozzarella and Gloucester Old Spot hand sliced sausage (£6.75). It was delicious if not a little grey looking. The wild broccoli tasted like it had been deep fried and contrasted the meaty sausage perfectly. The crusts were also undercooked on his pizza as well.
We decided to order desserts (even though we were all carbed out) as they sounded very tempting. The raspberry yoghurt and polenta torte (£2.90) was a small portion but perfectly sized for the price. It was fantastic – the crumbly polenta with sour raspberry, refreshing yoghurt and a little drizzle of sweet honey was faultless. The honey was from Zambia apparently and the most delicious honey we’ve ever tasted.
The other dessert we ordered was described as a ‘chocolate butter picker’ (£2.90). I have no idea why they didn’t just call it tiramisu as it was exactly that. Monmouth coffee gave this little glass of tiramisu a rich flavour but I wanted more of a punch from the liqour.
Our visit to Franco Manca was a cheap one – and very tasty too. The bill came to just £27.90 and we ate a lot of food. The quality of the ingredients was of an extremely high standard, the staff were friendly, the restaurant had a buzzy atmosphere and if they cook their crusts a little more then it will be a damn good pizza place.