Franco Manca

Unit 4, Market Row, Brixton, London, England, SW9 8LD, United Kingdom

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In Brixton market, Franco Manca opens only at lunch. To say that this is serious pizza is an understatement. The wood-fired pizza oven was built by a specialist supplier in Naples and shipped over (apparently the only one in England); it reaches 500C, meaning that the pizza is cooked in under two minutes. The base is sourdough, slow risen for at least 20 hours. Toppings are also well-sourced e.g. the chorizo is from Brindisa, organic tomatoes from Liguria in Italy, and the menu proudly lists the other suppliers. 

The setting is as basic as it gets, with bench seating that you will most likely have to share, since such is the popularity of the place that there was a long queue minutes after opening, and was still there when we left on a weekday lunch. Pizzas were laughably cheap: £4 for the tomato, garlic and oregano up to £5.90 for the tomato, mozzarella and chorizo. To drink there is an organic beer (£1.90), home-made lemonade (enjoyable as it is made with very good lemons and is not too sweet) and a single choice of organic Italian wine (£7.50 a bottle).

The base was light and the edges are just slightly charred by the hot even, giving an agreeable hint of charcoal, while the ingredients are unusually good for a pizza joint, as noted. We tried a variety of pizzas, and found some variation – one had the base cooked not quite as much as the others, and suffered by comparison. The wild mushrooms were pleasant but far from the best I have had.  If you are picky, you could note that the coffee may be from Monmouth Coffee Shop, but was lukewarm. However these are minor failings. I most enjoyed the tomato, chorizo and mozzarella pizza most, but such things are mostly a matter of personal preference of toppings. 

I find this very hard to score: something simple, done very well, is to be applauded, yet there is clearly less skill needed here than to produce some of the dishes in a top-end French (or even Italian) restaurant. I don’t really think even a perfect pizza deserves 20/20, any more than perfect sushi (or why not 20/20 for a perfect omelette or piece of toast, in which case what would you score a magnificent dish from a top three star restaurant?). Anyway, suffice it to say that this is a very fine pizza indeed, and almost absurdly good value. A gem.

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