Quite frankly, Franco Manca

Franco Manca, Brixton, SW9
Franco Manca, Brixton, SW9 (Photo credit: Ewan-M)

So, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that everybody loves a pizza. It’s virtually impossible not to! There’s a huge market for making a pukka pizza. There are pizzas and then there are pizzas– the unforgettable kind that you often revisit in your memory when you’re contemplating midnight snacks. Yeah – you know what I mean, those pizzas! Well, I was on a hunt in Brixton (the Veg Revvers have been frequenting there in search for alternative, good quality and cheap veggy/vegan food) to fulfil my pizza desires. I did a bit of googling on my phone and the worldwide web recommended Franco Manca as the place to get a pizza. In fact, The Observer claimed, if you’re going to get a pizza this year – get it at Franco Manca.

Here’s an informative and amusing (but slightly biased) review of Franco Manca if you want to know more about the history and what length the owner, Giuseppe Mascoli goes to ensure the best ingredients are used for his pizzas. This place is unpretentious and pretty raw – I mean that in the boho, not trying too hard kind of way.

So what did I order? The classic Margherita. I’ve been told many a times, that to judge a good pizza place, you should try the most classic type of pizza – the Margherita. Simple and stupendous; the original pizza.

After ordering, we didn’t have to wait long until our pizzas arrived. My boyfriend and I ordered the same thing and we went with some tap water. The pizzas looked pretty impressive –

Another photo of a Franco Manca pizza, courtesy of Google

How did it taste?

Here’s where it all fell down a bit for me. I know – I wanted to write a different story, but I can’t. The dough was good (it’s sour dough and has been going since the 1730s and takes ages to rise), but …the pizza itself was too bland. I looked around and the grass seemed greener (or the pizzas more the type in my midnight snack visions) – we barely had any tomato sauce on them, mine was especially barren, and it was just a bit…mediocre. You have to imagine that I was out to fulfil this wild pizza fantasy; having read amazing reviews and psyching myself up to have the pizza in the country. It was a pizza, but not the pizza. You can imagine my frustration.

It didn’t help that RIGHT next to Franco Manca is a fish monger’s! I am a vegetarian and clearly sensitive to this, but even other people who were eating meat on their pizzas looked pretty put off by the smell wafting over occasionally. The staff service wasn’t amazing either – I moved around about twice to find the best table away from the fish smell, and they looked on in bemusement and I felt really awkward!

I liked the rustic vibe to this place, but I didn’t like the pizza. I tasted something distinctly smoky and gross – I sat in paranoia imagining that it was a taste of meat. The cheese was ok, but the basil was sparse which I felt was quite stingy – the menu said basil, but I had one measly leaf! The bottom of the dough was burnt and ruined the delicate balance of flavours that a good Margherita should offer. Overall it was a mediocre disappointment – not the acclaimed pizza I had been hoping for. In fact, I recall even putting chilli olive oil to spice it up a bit. It was that flat to my palette.

If you’re on the hunt for the pizza, I wouldn’t direct you to Franco Manca- I know it seems mean considering all the hype it’s had, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I didn’t even finish my pizza. This place might be great if you’re adding the bells and the whistles on your pizza, or if you eat meat (there were a variety of selections), but this is not a vegetarian match made in heaven. The fish monger’s is indication enough – as was the odd smoky taste one distinct spot on my pizza had. You’ve been warned!

Overall rating

Price: 3.5/5 (it was £5.80)

Service: 3/5

Taste: 2/5