Balham’s cosy and endearing corner rendition of Franco Manca pizzeria is a south London gem. The restaurant is charming with white marbled counter-style tables and an impressive rack of wine bottles on display. The large blackboard detailing the daily specials menu hangs above the pizzaiolo masters and their peels laden with fresh pizza sourdough. The quaint restaurant is just around the block from Balham tube station and has outdoor seating for a sunny day.
The head pizzaiolo of the pizzeria proudly boasts about hailing from the same town in Italy as the sourdough starter, which dates back to the 1730’s. The dough operation is run with military precision every single day to allow a minimum of 20 hour slow-rise fermentation. The wood-fired brick ovens are artisan-made, tailored to the needs of an authentic pizza, and imported from Naples to ensure the correct conditions to cook each pizza for precisely 40 seconds.
The pizza crust is at once delightfully crunchy and chewy, distinctly sour, but not too overwhelming in combination with the topping ingredients - which have been carefully selected and sourced by the owners. Expect flavour combinations such as Calabrian anchovies, Kalamata black olivers, and capers with superb British and Italian cheeses like Colston Bassett stilton and creamy-milky fresh burrata.
The restaurant is truly accommodating from its vegan wines and mozzarella options to halal spicy chicken and lamb sausages. While the sourdough is one of the main flavour profiles curated to perfection, gluten free eaters are not an afterthought – GF dough is on offer without compromising on texture.
Bookings for larger parties are available for any occasion. Disabled and child-friendly facilities are accessible too. Franco Manca is a great place to feed your pizza craving and to appreciate the skill that goes into curating and baking it to absolute perfection.