One of the most talked about restaurants in Brixton Village (which is saying something), Franco Manca is a sourdough pizzeria where the dough is risen for a minimum of 20 hours and then baked in an oven that apparently produces ‘slow levitation”. They also have branches in Chiswick and Westfield and on the Northcote Road. William Skidelsky from the Guardian called them the best pizzas in Britain.
The pizzas are delicious. More than one friend has said they think this has less to do with the sourdough base and more to do with the yummy range of toppings and ‘was made from scratch, baked and served in the last ten minutes from an oven I’m practically sitting in” freshness. The standard topping range is limited, but they are all very tasty sounding combinations and a bit different to the norm – mixing fresh produce and clearly high quality meats. There’s always a couple of tempting specials too and you can mix and match to create your favourite. I always look at the portion and think it’s small, but leave bursting full. Those with big appetites though may find it insufficient, so I’d definitely say it was more of a lunch than dinner option.
It has a license so you can get a beer or glass of wine with your meal, both unceremoniously served in a tumbler but no worse tasting for it. They do a homemade lemonade which we found a little dubious and so might be best avoided. In my hungover state I slightly bemoaned the lack of diet coke but that may just be me, and I can see that it doesn’t really fit with the philosophy of the place.
I always love the atmosphere in Brixton Village and Franco Manca is no exception. Straddling two sides of the market, the layout feels almost outdoors (although its definitely indoors!) and is perfect for people watching. There’s always a queue of about 8 people but don’t be put off by that as it’s the fastest moving queue I’ve ever seen. This is, however, due to the fact that the owner expects you to have chosen, and ordered by the time you make it to the front of the queue when it’s busy (be ready cause you’ll be in trouble if you’re not, you have been warned!) They are quite good about not hassling you, but the food comes out incredibly fast and you’ll feel a bit guilty if you linger when people’s stomachs are rumbling in the queue so don’t head there for a leisurely 3 hour catch up over a bottle of wine.
Great pizza, lovely bustling italian vibe and one of my favourite locations in the Village. Perfect for a quick bite to eat on a Saturday lunch time. If you’re a smaller group, don’t be surprised if you end up sharing a table with other people, but this is fairly standard in lots of these super-popular-but-super-tiny places in Brixton Village.
Go there if…
You love good pizza, are intrigued by the sourdough and are excited by the idea of quality toppings like artichoke, gloucester old spot ham and artisan cheeses that they’ve worked directly with the dairy to develop.
Don’t go there if…
Your dream pizza is a Dominoes express meat feast in all its grease-laden, processed meat, spray-on-garlic glory.
If you’re pretending to have been there don’t forget to mention…
It’s actually hidden in Market Row, the other half of Brixton Village, so can be hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for!
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