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Unit 4, Market Row
Since opening in 2008, this miniature artisan enterprise has built a cult following – thanks to the quality of its wood-fired sourdough pizzas, which are cooked in a special Tufac brick oven imported from Naples. Locals are attracted by the rock-bottom prices and meticulously sourced ingredients, so it’s no wonder that queues form around the block for a taste of Franco’s delicious offerings. Just six different versions are available, topped with various combinations of tomatoes (imported from Salerno), Gloucester Old Spot ham, sausages from Brindisa, organic mozzarella and ricotta produced at Alham Wood in Somerset, fresh herbs, mushrooms and the like. Charcuterie platters and panuozzi (flame-baked bread with various toppings) play a supporting role, while drinks range from a pair of Piedmontese organic wines (red or white) to Sam Smith’s organic blond beer.
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Unit 4, Market Row
Brixton Tube Station 150m
Brixton Station 337m
Ritzy Cinema 58m
The Fridge 246m
Mon-Sun 12N-5pm (Thurs-Sat -9.15pm Sun -4.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Decent, not amazing
Food + drink: 5
Franco Manca isn't in the most romantic of settings but that's not what you go there for. You go to stuff enormous pieces of their unbelievably chewy, tangy, soft, delicious pizza into your mouth as fast as you can – and wash them down with gulps of perfectly paired organic wine or home made lemonade.
There isn't a huge amount of choice on the menu, and some pizzas even come – gasp! – without tomato or cheese, but their special slow-rising sourdough base goes amazingly well with some very well sourced toppings, like home-cured Gloucester old spot ham and organic pecorino from Somerset.
Service is pretty abrupt though – I guess with massive queues to get in even on a late Sunday lunchtime, the staff feel they don't particularly have to coddle their customers. When I asked for a dash of milk with my espresso (I know, BLASPHEMY) – I was told by the horrified waitress that “we don't DO milk.”
However, with some of the best pizza I've eaten outside Italy, and a bill coming to about £10 per person with a glass of wine, I'll humbly queue and drink my coffee black like everyone else.
Let's put Franco Manca in perspective with other eateries. We are talking about quality of product, no frills, the real thing and value for money – for this they get 10 out of 10. But I take 1 point away because of the difficulty in reaching it and the fact that it is only open Mon-Fri at lunchtime only. The various Pizza Express, Zizzi, Ask and so on pale into insignificance, with the highest vote, when compared to Franco Manca, being a meagre 3 out of 10. This quality is only found in the better pizzerie in Italy and if Franco Manca (or rather Giuseppe Mascoli, the owner) wanted to become seriously rich, he would open a series of joints everywhere and, most importantly, open the shops evenings and week-ends. But one cannot have all from life so let's call a sicky at work and enjoy lunch during the week!.
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