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Archive for May 30th, 2009

Franco Manca Sourdough Pizza

I’ve read a lot over the last few months about Franco Manca, the wonderful pizza place in Brixton Market. It’s a bit of a pain to get to so has taken us a while to finally go there – last weekend seemed to be the first in ages that the Victoria Line was running so we seized the opportunity. As it transpired we had to get the bus anyway as the line was suspended between Victoria and Brixton!

Franco Manca make their pizzas using a 20-hour slow-rise sourdough from a starter which is apparantly 300 years old – quite a bit older than my own which isn’t even one yet. The pizza is then cooked in a wood burning oven for just enough time to cook the base and slightly melt the cheese. Having won Time Out’s best “cheap eat” in London last year and despite only opening at lunchtimes, the place appears to have a cult foodie following. Pizza at Franco Manca, Brixton Market

We arrived at about 12:30 to a packed restaurant and a queue of around 15 people. In hindsight this wasn’t the best time to turn up as we had to wait for everyone in the first sitting to finish their meal; eventually after around 20 minutes we were seated. The menu is wonderfully simple with just six pizzas and a selection of drinks (mostly organic). I ordered number 5 – tomato, cured organic chorizo and mozzarella – Erika had number 1 – tomato, mozzarella and basil.

Despite service being a bit chaotic – the head waiter was making me stressed – the food turned up very quickly and it tasted wonderful. The tomato sauce was just… wow, absolutely incredible. Erika wouldn’t stop talking about it, I think she’d have been happy to have just had a bowl of sauce! The chorizo had a spicy tang to it, the mozzarella was better than any mozzarella I’ve had before and the crust was beautifully charred at the edges – something you’d only get from a wood-burning oven. The only disappointment was that the base was quite soggy and the toppings were a bit stingy. Erika’s pizza had only one small basil leaf on it!

Two pizzas and water (free) was £10.70 which means that it probably does deserve the title of best cheap eat – reviewers often seem to complain about poor service, but we didn’t see any of that – rushed, certainly, but we felt well attended to. Franco Manca is also quite a bit better than the usual chain pizza places but once again can’t seem to deliver a crispy base. We’ve experimented with pizza at home a few times – I usually have more success than Erika – so maybe it’s time to try again (with special attention paid to the tomato sauce!).

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