Cheap pizza done right.
Pizza isn’t usually something I eat at restaurants. Apart from the fact that I eat enough of the stuff at house parties and late nights at the office, the stuff is rarely done well. If there’s one place I will sit down for a pizza however, it’s Franco Manca.
The original Franco Manca is a lunchtime-only, no reservations eatery in Brixton, but the Chiswick branch near Hammersmith does take reservations and is also open for dinner. The place has a generic canteen-like feel from the tiled floors to the bench-like tables and stools, so it’s a quick bite place rather than somewhere to linger.
Franco Manca was unsurprisingly bustling on the Friday evening I visited the place with The Bastard. Service ranged from brusque and monosyllabic to stoically helpful. The Bastard seemed non-committal about his beer, but I enjoyed my unusual lemonade. The orange coloured concoction tasted like a homemade honey and lemon cold remedy but without the honey. There was also a warmth reminiscent of ginger but without the spice. It’s the most interesting lemonade I’ve had, but it’s not especially refreshing so I was glad to have a large bottle of tap water on hand too.
The Bastard and I shared a platter of cured meats, rocket and shavings of a hard creamy cheese as a starter. The wild boar mortadella and the cheese were unremarkable, but the thin slices of Gloucester old spot ham and wild boar ham were a revelation. The sweet, smoky, slightly peppery slices of cured pig went down a treat.
Even better were the pizzas. Courgettes aren’t a common pizza ingredient, but they worked beautifully here. The creamy slices of vegetable went wonderfully well with the creamy ricotta cheese, while the shavings of pecorino cheese added a slight peppery hit. Just as remarkable was the crust which was incredibly light and fluffy with a slight chewiness and none of the grease that seems to infest lesser, substandard pizzas.
Less outstanding but still tasty was The Bastard’s choice of a pizza topped with Gloucester Old Spot Ham, mozzarella, ricotta and mushrooms. Although the sweet, smoky meat went very well with the creamy cheese, it didn’t quite have the same inspired combination of flavours that the courgette pizza did. It still had the same delightfully fluffy base though.
Although not quite perfect, Franco Manca’s pizzas are easily among the best I’ve had in London and well worth trekking out to Chiswick for – especially at these bargain prices.
Name: Franco Manca (Chiswick)
Address: 144 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 1PU
Phone: 020 8747 4822
Opening Hours: seven days a week noon-23:00.
Reservations: highly recommended.
Total cost for one person, shared between two: £25 approx.
Updated 11/9/2011 – upgraded from four stars to five stars