We first visited Franco Manca at their restaurant in Chiswick and loved their pizzas and the prices – it’s seriously good value. There’s plans to open quite a few more around London so when I heard they’d set up shop on Tottenham Court Road I hurried myself along there.
After a short wait in the cramped doorway (they don’t take reservations) we were taken to a table by the open plan kitchen in the centre of the room. Maybe I’m just getting old but it was über noisy; the chefs were slamming and banging things about like nobody’s business and there was loads of shouting. It was so loud our waitress’s reply was “pardon?” after everything we said which became a tad annoying.
It was a simple menu with six pizzas listed and printed on a piece of paper that served as a place mat. I went for a number three; wild broccoli, Mozarella and Gloucester Old Spot hand sliced sausage.(£6.75). The pizza was absolutely divine and I loved the absence of tomato – it didn’t need any. The wild broccoli was unlike your bog standard variety as it was leafy like spinach but full of flavour. The sausage had a strong fennel after taste which was most pleasant. Drenching the spongy crusts in the fiery chilli oil provided was a particular highlight for me.
The number five; tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozarella (£6.70) was seriously salty – to the point of being unpleasant, sadly. The crusts were still good though which offered some light relief from the sodium overload.
We ordered both of the desserts available; lemon almond cake and the chocolate and hazelnut cake (both £3.75). The lemon cake was really moist and sticky with a lovely citrusy wallop in every mouthful. The dollop of creme fraiche helped cut through the sweetness. The chocolate cake however was less belly pleasing as it was served fridge-cold meaning the flavour was distant and almost non-existent. The vanilla ice cream served with it was bland also.
We didn’t have a faultless dinner but as it’s so reasonably priced I found the mistakes a little easier to stomach. If you’re after a quick and affordable pizza in a very loud restaurant then Franco Manca in Tottenham Court Road is probably worth a look in. Personally however, I think I prefer the surroundings of say, Homeslice, Princi or Pizza Pilgrims as they didn’t make my ears hurt. Either way, my sausage pizza and that lemon cake was positively lovely – I think I ordered wisely.