Franco Manca, London

Most of you, dear readers, will be likely to travel for good food. I do so too, as far as I can. The restaurants I usually travel to are either in a very nice part of a city or nestled between lush green valleys or in some other idyllic location. Most of them are highly rated by the Michelin or some other guides, which usually makes such a trip something rather special, if only due to the fact that I can’t afford to eat that kind of food everyday. In this case, the story is different. Very different in fact. The restaurant I frequently « travel » to is located in Brixton. Not that I have anything against Brixton, but it probably wouldn’t be the place where I’d expect a restaurant of this quality to be. This being said, the restaurant in question doesn’t have any stars or other rewards from any other guide.  I only stumbled across this little piece of heaven after some friends continuously raved about it. 

 

La table

La table

 

 

The place is run by some very committed people. After all, not everyone will make his Pizza oven come from Naples, « import » his cheese-maker from Sorrento or make his own lemonade. Giuseppe Mascoli did go through all of this trouble, only to produce what could easily be the best Pizza north of the Alps. His dough is let to rest for at least 20h, his meats come from Brindisa, and the rest isn’t exactly coming from Tesco’s neither. 

Let this be clear. Don’t expect to be shown the way to the toilet here. The service is busy, but does smile- at least most of the time. Furthermore, there isn’t any Christoffle cutlery or Bernardaud crockery but you have your menu as « presentation plate ». Just like in Italy.

Here come the good news for all students and others, who don’t exactly have the cash to drink a bottle of Clos d’Ambonnay every day: The Pizze are about half the price of those at Pizza Express or something of that sort. They go from a mere 4£ to 5.90£. Filtered tab-water is offered a volonte and the lemonade (delicious, even for me who never drinks such things) is no more than 1£ for 250ml. Could you start any better way? I don’t think so.

Once you ordered, you can expect to be able to start eating after a couple of minutes (literally). Today, I went for the special: Pancetta, confit tomatoes and mozzarella. First off, the daily specials are always fantastic here, on another visit I had a fantastic rucola and prosciutto di Parma Pizza. Secondly, the dough is pure magic. It is as light as a good souffle, with a fantastically thin crust, amazingly intensive flavour and is quite « elastic ». It is the airiness  and the elasticity of the dough, that you rarely get elsewhere. I don’t think you can find any better dough anywhere but Naples. In today’s case, the toppings worked marvelously with the rest. The pancetta (smoked pork belly) was slightly crunchy in some parts, whilst being meltingly tender in others. Along with the mozzarella and the tomatoes it just creates stunning depth of flavour. Where does such simple food taste any better? Upon taking the first bite, you might never want to leave, seriously. I’ve been coming back here every two weeks to have either 2 or more Pizze. Outstanding.

 

Pancetta/tomatoes/mozzarella

Pancetta/tomatoes/mozzarella

 

 

same

same

 

 

 

To follow this, I had chosen a Pizza with tomatoe, anchovy, capers, olives, oregano and mozzarella. It was certainly another winner, if not as good as their white Pizze. The dough is a huge pleasure with every bite that is taken. It just is truly stellar to eat so well, in London, for no more than 5£!

 

Tomatoes/olives/capers/anchovy/oregano

Tomatoes/olives/capers/anchovy/oregano

 

 

If one finishes the meal off with a nice strong espresso (nearly a ristretto) from Monmouth coffee company, the day is perfect. One can indeed travel to Italy, even if one exits the tube at Brixton. Remarkable but true.

 

A few things that you should avoid or do. First, they only open for lunch (12-5) so turning up for dinner might leave you with a little creux. Also, Saturdays are pretty busy there. You can either be there in good time or you bring a book and read a few chapters before being seated. Third, their daily specials and white Pizze are always the best. The others are great, but do not reach the heights of the white ones. Finally, bring a few friends and have a good time. That’s what it’s all about in Naples and here too.

Anyone who wants to eat well in London should come here, at least once!

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2 Réponses to “Franco Manca, London”

  1. kai Says:

    Wonderful report, Felix! I wish there were be more bloggers around the world who report about outstanding « regular » food more often…keep it coming! Greetings, kai

    • felixhirsch Says:

      THere might be some more of that coming up! Will take some time though, as such places are quite rare.

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