Famed for its traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas and slow-rising sourdough, I first heard about Franco Manca when researching the health benefits of sourdough. Each enormous pizza is made from slow-rising sourdough (minimum 20 hours) and baked at over 500°c in a wood-burning ‘Tuff’ brick oven brought over from Naples. The result is a highly digestible pizza base that’s soft and thin in the centre, billowing into a chargrilled crust that’s almost blistered from the heat. There are only six core pizzas on the menu (although extra toppings and specials are available) and the subtle tang of the sourdough perfectly compliments the paired-back ingredients – every ingredient of the highest quality and, when possible, UK-sourced.
Taste-wise it really doesn’t get much better and after my first visit to the restaurant on Tottenham Court Road, I’ve lost count of the number of times and branches I’ve been back to. The quality is consistent, the service is fast and the atmosphere always alive with the drama of an open kitchen.
But what’s even more impressive is the price. Prices start at just £4.80 (the most expensive option still only £6.95) and yet these pizzas are surprisingly, satisfyingly huge. In fact, I have often been known to share one for a quick and ridiculously cheap hot lunch when we’re out and about. That’s cheaper than a Tescos meal deal, people.
However, I am not alone in my love for Franco Mancas. Pizzas are served on a first come, first served basis (i.e. no bookings) and any customer after 6 pm should expect to join the back of a queue that winds its way well out of the door. But it’s worth the wait. The turnover is quick and if you’re really hungry, you can always just jump the queue and order take-out. Just don’t take my table, will you?