Sunday, 4 November 2012

Franco Manca: Definitely Not Sour

I've been to Franco Manca's several times without blogging, both in Brixton and also in its recently opened Clapham Junction venue. Its has been widely praised in both the mainstream media and food bloggerati. It is famous for its soft chewy sourdough bases and simple, high quality toppings.

The owners Giuseppe Mascoli and Bridget Hugo opened in the enclosed Brixton market in 2008 at a time when London could really do with a smile and the joy a great pizza brings. They have brought sourdough to the masses and have turned those used to crispy but flavourless crusts, back into the light. Today, with four venues and a growing fan base, the dough is still made with the military precision that it was in 2008 and the ingredients still sourced with care. Prices may have risen over the years but at between £6-8, its still amazing value.

The pizzas are cooked in a brick oven at 500 degrees and take a mind-numbing 40 seconds to cook. This is basically as close to Naples as you are likely to get while sipping your organic lemonade and sitting next to a couple that fell through a Jack Wills catalogue.

Chorizo and mozzarella pizza

The chorizo pizza was great as it was the last time I had it. The tomato base sweet with a little tartness, and the mozzarella is buttery and creamy. The chorizo, both dry and semi-dry was high quality. The dry sausage had a greater charr on its upturned edges giving it a greater smokey flavour; the semi- was softer and was a strong spicy pork fella.

The crust and base are different to the 90 second blistering wonders that fly out of the ovens of Naples. The sourdough retains more moisture and because of this it has a real chew to it. The bottom is softer and less charred than its lighter yeastier counterparts. The dough definitely has a sour taste but it isn't overwhelming and the malleable nature of it gives an alternate eating experience. Its more knife and fork chatting over a glass of house wine, rather than a pick-up-and-shove-in-face slice.

Underside charring

The old spot ham was obviously very high quality and the mushrooms gave a real earthy note. The ricotta added a salty note that combined with the ham wasn't overpowering. There is less tomato giving it a more 'bianco' feel.
Old Spot ham and mushroom pizza

Palates of dough

How much: £6-8 for a pizza, £2 for a drink. No desserts.

Where is it: 16 Northcote Road, London, SW11 6QL. No reservations.
Can also be found in Brixton Village market, Westfield and Chiswick.

Food: 8.5/10
Value: 9/10 
Overall: 9/10

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