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Franco Manca Review

Could this be the best pizza in London?

Written by . Published on September 1st 2011.

Franco Manca Review

GETTING to Franco Manca is a joy in itself. Delving through Brixton Market from the tube station takes you up Electric Avenue, past the old-time traders flogging packaged fish, domestic items and cheap clothes. Labelling it as a place with a diverse demographic wouldn’t do it justice, more like a huge melting pot of all ages, ethnicities, aromas, attitudes and religious beliefs – collectively aligned with a common love of Brixton, south London’s bohemian capital. It almost slipped my mind that I was here to review the highly acclaimed Franco Manca pizza joint nestled in the heart of Brixton’s indoor market.

Imagine if you will, a busy pavement filled with elaborately dressed enigmatic Rastafarians, civilized Guardian readers, biblical preachers with people eating pizza either side of it on wooden benches – if you can, then you’ve probably got a good idea of what to expect from dining at Franco Manca.

Some places have a formula – one that works no matter how simple and humdrum it may seem, like when Levi Roots decided to sell, simply, really bloody good chilli sauce. Franco Manca happens to have an easy formula of its own, sourdough pizza, that’s all, nothing more nothing less. They make no mistake in advertising this too, when you’re presented with a menu upon arrival with a choice of six pizzas numbered one to six (for ordering convenience), a single choice of salad, beer, white and red wine and a small selection of juices.


Perhaps the most unorthodox feature of Franco Manca is the wide walkway, filled with market shoppers, dividing the restaurant into two. There is a small inside dining section on either side with outside seating lining the walkway. Imagine if you will, a busy pavement filled with elaborately dressed enigmatic Rastafarians, civilized Guardian readers, biblical preachers with people eating pizza either side of it on wooden benches – if you can, then you’ve probably got a good idea of what to expect from dining at Franco Manca. But don’t be fooled, it really does make it unique. I’m not denying that “All hail King Salassie” is something I’ve ever been accustomed to hearing on a lunch date, but this can definitely be classified as context relevant.

Franco Manca has a rhythm, or maybe a flow, something that everyone who eats and works there seems to be tuned into. I realised that it was probably a good idea to acquaint my self with this sharpish, after my date and I were briskly escorted to our seats and wedged in with two other diners. No time to feel awkward now and if you’re expecting conventional restaurant service you might as well do one. The waiter was pleasant and extremely efficient, immediately taking our order for a bottle of the Madregale Rosso (£12.95). After a satisfying first sip and a touch of the glasses with my lunch date I couldn’t help but double take on my surroundings. ‘How do they get away with this unconventional dynamic of dining?’ I thought to myself, as I watched the staff storming back and forth across the busy walkway with pizza after pizza from the huge wood burning brick oven. I was still trying to work it out.


Onto the eating, and after waiting maybe a little too long for the waiter to take our order we were rolling. I chose the tomato, cured organic chorizo and mozzarella option (£6.95) with my date choosing the courgette, basil, buffalo ricotta, Franco and Lloyd organic Somerset pecorino pizza (£6.50). We also ordered the large salad (£2.90) to accompany our showpieces. Within ten minutes we were dealt our just rewards. My immediate impression was that  the pizzas looked positively rustic, simple and perfectly cooked – the first bite definitely didn’t let me down. Like all good Italian pizzas, the crust was fresh with a crisp outside layer and a thin moist base. The chorizo, sourced from Brindisa, was bursting with flavour and the mozzarella, from Alham Wood Organics in Somerset was melted perfectly over the base. A wonderful part of the menu is on the back, where they list the sourcing of all their ingredients as well as giving some interesting information on the art of sourdough pizzas. The salad provided a perfect accompaniment to the main with fresh watercress, tomato, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and dressing. Is there anything I don’t like about this place? Probably not, and judging from my companion’s reaction to his choice, I wasn’t alone. The buffalo ricotta, also from Alham Wood, was divine and the courgettes provided a welcome change to your typical pizza topping. 

It was all over rather quickly, as is the turnover of covers in there noon to 5pm opening hours, but I left feeling rather smug about my encounter with Franco Manca, surely the best pizza in the UK.

Franco Manca
Unit 4, Market Row, 

Rating: 15/20

Food: 8/10

Service: 3/5

Ambience: 4/5

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Sav D'souzaSeptember 2nd 2011.

Nic review Josh, the moment I saw the pictures of those pizzas I instantly thought of Baffetto's in Rome, which for me do the best and cheapest pizzas in that city. Sadly, I really venture to Brixton much these days but will spread the word and hopefully seek out if I happen to swing by.


Joshua LearnerSeptember 2nd 2011.

Thanks for the words Sav, it's quite rare that you find a pizza that looks and tastes like a real authentic Italian pizza. Get down there!!

Joshua LearnerSeptember 2nd 2011.

p.s. I'll make every effort to visit Baffetto's one day

Gordo aka SatanSeptember 2nd 2011.

excellent review this Josh, I like your style.

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