I absolutely love this place.. it’s undoubtedly my favourite pizza place in London! I’ve been more times than I can count and every single time I just can’t believe how good it is! It’s got to the point where I’m almost reluctant to try any other pizza places as I don’t feel like anywhere can compare – I don’t think a pizza can be any better!
I’m writing this after my latest visit and a ridiculously good food day.. As well as pizza I had a huge white kit kat buttermilk pancake stack with ice cream from My Old Dutch, avocado and chilli toast with goats cheese and feta and a salted caramel and banana cream Crosstown doughnut from Kopapa, a beautiful rainbow sprinkle cake from Crumbs & Doilies, a minced beef pastry from Simit Sarayi and a slab of cake from Cutter & Squidge (I had to scroll back through my photos just to even remember all the amazing food I’d eaten!) and yet this was probably still the highlight of my day!! 🙂
Anyway.. onto pizza. I LOVE pizza (surprise surprise)! Is there anything better than carbs and cheese!? My perfect pizza would have a thin base with soft, fluffy crusts, smothered in cheese. When I was younger I used to order as many toppings as was possible – chicken, pepperoni, bacon, ham, sweetcorn, tomatoes (not mushrooms though.. I hated mushrooms, and now they’ve somehow become my all time favourite topping!) – I’d end up costing my poor parents a fortune as I’d order the pizza with the most toppings on the menu and then add extras at over a pound each! As I’ve grown up though, I’ve realised that the best pizzas don’t need lots of toppings. Now give me a simple pizza made well, with just one or two toppings and I’m happy.. as long as they don’t scrimp on mozzarella!
When I first moved to London, I immediately asked my friends for pizza recommendations. Franco Manca and Pizza East seemed two of the most popular. My first visit was a few years ago, when they didn’t have as many branches open – I went to the one in Brixton market, which to this day is still probably my favourite one as it’s so different. It’s in the middle of a busy market, there are two seating areas opposite each other with the main walkway of the market down the middle.. it’s such a relaxed atmosphere with a lot of the tables being outside and huge outdoor heaters for when it’s colder.
Their pizza is made from slow rising sourdough and is baked in a wood burning brick oven made by specialised artisans from Naples. They claim that this oven produces a heat of around 500 degrees Celsius, which means that the speed at which the pizza is cooked gives a ridiculously soft and fluffy crust (and that you don’t have to wait long for your pizza to be cooked :D). They have a simple menu, but they do it well. They have around six different pizzas on their menu, plus some specials, but they’re always happy to make a custom pizza if needed. I’ve tried almost all of their pizzas – I now usually go for one of their specials to try something new. My favourite one is probably ham and mushroom which is always a winning combination – Gloucester old spot ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and wild mushrooms. I usually ask for a tomato base though (rather than just ricotta), as to me a pizza isn’t a pizza without both tomato and cheese! The crust is amazing – fluffy, soft and a little chewy with the perfect sourdough flavour, and their toppings are always of the best quality. I’ve since tried a couple of their other locations and have found them to be just as perfect, though the simple charm of the one in Brixton means it will always be a favourite for me I think. Plus there’s an amazing frozen yogurt and waffle stall just a few metres away for dessert!
They now have almost twenty locations across London, and I’m really not surprised to see the rate at which they’re expanding – I can’t recommend this place enough! They don’t take bookings at all but one (I think!) of their locations, so if you’re going at a busy time then be prepared to queue.. but it’s definitely worth the wait! 🙂 They’re also ridiculously good value – with their pizzas starting from under six pounds which is the same price as some of the upmarket supermarket pizzas!! The only negative thing I could POSSIBLY say is that sometimes they could put slightly more mozzarella on, but everything else is so tasty that I’m honestly not sure if it even needs it – the chunks they do put on are so thick and the crusts are so good that I’m actually happy to eat them on their own! When I see people cutting them off I have to resist the urge to eat them off their plate 🙂
I have also tried Pizza East and a couple of others but in my opinion they just didn’t compare so I don’t think I’d choose to go back there again! I have been meaning to try Homeslice though, if only because their pizzas look huge.. but every time I want pizza I always seem to end up here!
Would I recommend it? YES!!
Worth going out of your way for? Absolutely 100% yes
Would I go back? I think it’s the place I’ve visited the most times so far in London..!
Link to their website: http://www.francomanca.co.uk