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Franco Manca W4

144 Chiswick High Road, London, England, W4 1PU, United Kingdom

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Franco Manca in Brixton Market is something of a legend amongst foodies; open only for lunch, people queue around the block to eat its pizzas. Now the residents of Chiswick can sample the same food on their doorsteps. The key to Franco Manca is the obsession with detail, which extends from the food to even to the décor here. The lovely tiled floor uses tiles (some dating back to the 16th century) from a villa in Naples that was damaged in the earthquake in 1980; piece of damaged tiles are used to decorate the pizza oven. The mural at the back of the premises was painted by an 87 year old artist, Enzo Apicella, who was once the cartoonist for the Economist. The pizza oven is a wood-burning “Tufae” oven constructed on the site by builders from Naples, and weighs eight tons, getting to 550C. Owner Giuseppe Mascoli is originally from Naples but has lived in London for many years (he also owns private members club Black’s in Soho), and was heavily involved with the beginning of the Slow Food movement.

The pizza base is a sourdough base that is rested for over 20 hours, while the toppings are carefully sourced: tomatoes from Salerno, cured meats from Brindisa, Gloucester Old Spot pork. Even the coffee, from the Monmouth Street Coffee Company, is a blend of three coffees commissioned especially for Franco Manca. Lemonade is produced from Amalfi lemons.

The result of all this effort is a pizza that has a lovely texture to the crust, crisp on the outside yet soft. Sad foodie that I am, I was there early to ensure that I ate the very first pizza produced from the oven on the restaurant’s first service when it opened. It was a classic of tomato, mozzarella and basil, and cost £5.30. Note the price, which is less than the pizza chains that populate our high street for a product that bears no comparison with the superb creations here (the costliest pizza on the menu was £6.80 when it opened). Service at the Chiswick branch is friendly but rather forgetful, but despite the crowds that it now attracts the staff still manage to be welcoming.

As I have written before, I have considerable difficulty assigning a score here. It is as good a pizza as you are likely to find (certainly as good as any I have eaten, along with that of Santa Maria and Sacro Cuore), and yet at the end of the day it is a pizza, not a dish involving complex sauces and loving presentation as you would find in a top Michelin-starred restaurant. However, no one wants to eat elaborate food every day, and it is a delight to see someone with such passion trying to produce the very finest pizza that can be made.

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  • Adam Ross

    Hate to disagree with the uniform praise, but I've been disappointed both times I ate at FM Chiswick. Not because it wasn't good, but because it wasn't as good as FM Brixton. The base just isn't quite there - flabby is the only word that seems to illuminate the problem. Service is also slightly underpar. Having burnt one pizza (and being forced to bin it by the manager) and then delivering a different pizza to that which was ordered, no compensation was offered. I'm not out for a free meal, but when somewhere gets it wrong twice I think they should attempt to make up for it. That said, I've had lemonade spilled on my pizza in Brixton, and no replacement offered, so I guess that might be a point of commonality. So, great pizza but they need to keep up the Brixton standard, and improve the service a bit

  • Piet

    Brilliant pizzas. I agree with the comment about the coffee - excellent stuff but poorly made. Ours also arrived lukewarm and hadn't been handled properly. Other than that I love the place.

  • John Sargent

    The food here is the closest I've eaten to Di Matteo and Sorbillo's in Naples anywhere outside of there. Fabulous stuff!

  • Matthew Mawtus

    A great addition to Chiswick High Road with unbeatable value and friendly service. Great times!!

  • Chris n Katie

    Nearly as good as Da Michele in Naples. We were very impressed by the attention to detail on a humble pizza, very pleasantly surprised by the organic credentials of the ingredients and blown away by the low price ... and all on our doorstep. Our prayers have been answered.

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