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Friday 26 February 2010

The Best Pizza in London - Franco Manca

Franco Manca in Chiswick - **UPDATED** on 2nd March 2010

Dr G and I recently went to the newly opened branch of Franco Manca in Chiswick with fellow food blogger Su-Lin of Tamarind & Thyme.

Unlike the Brixton joint, the Chiswick branch is a real restaurant – it feels modern and casual with a massive mosaic-tiled, wood-burning oven dominating its entrance. I liked the simplicity and understated elegance of the décor, the long communal tables, and the uncluttered and airy space.

Much has been said about Franco Manca, its slow-rising sourdough pizza base (minimum 20 hours), and the organic Italian or locally sourced ingredients (see Su-Lin’s great review on Tamarind & Thyme). I was however still impressed to find how delicious their pizza dough was – this was for me the main event regarding Franco Manca.

The dough was elastic with a deliciously chewy, dense consistency like good quality sourdough bread. The crust had been beautifully charred giving a woody, smoky flavour to the dough.

Also impressive was how affordable Franco Manca’s pizzas were, priced between £4.50 and£6.90. This is much better value than similar Neapolitan style pizzerias like Rossopomodoro or Pizza East.

We shared three of the starters “Aubergine alla Parmegiana”, “Garlic Pizza Bread” and “Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella”. The aubergine was beautifully made, and so was the rather large garlic sourdough bread.

The buffalo mozzarella was, in my opinion, not as sensational as the one I tried at Rossopomodoro, and the addition of tomato sauce to the mozzarella overpowered its delicate flavour.

As for the pizza, Su-Lin and I went for “Meat Special” @ £6.90 (wild mushrooms, wild boar, smoked buffalo mozzarella). This was very good, with a generous topping of mozzarella and mushrooms. The wild boar salami was also a nice addition. The pizza base was sensational, and the fact that it was a white pizza (with no tomato sauce) did not detract from the overall experience.

Dr G went for a “Number 5” @ £6.80 (tomato, cured organic chorizo (dry and semi Dry), mozzarella). The tomato sauce tasted fresh and had probably been made on the premises. It was again a delicious pizza with authentic ingredients.

We shared a bottle of organic Dolcetto @ £9.20, this was a simple and rustic wine and although well priced, it was disappointingly of not very good quality. Su-Lin had a 250ml bottle of organic lemonade @ £1.80, and we both wished we had ordered the same.

Cost: around £45 (£15 per person) including a bottle of wine & service.

Likes: sensational sourdough base, good quality & authentic ingredients, very affordable prices, and free filtered water.

Dislikes: limited wine choices (only one red and one white option).

Verdict: One of the best pizzerias in London, serving excellent sourdough pizza base at very affordable prices. It may lack the glamour of Pizza East or Rossopomodoro’s central location but their pizzas are second to none and will set you back significantly less. Highly recommended.

**Update** - Since writing this post, I heard from Giuseppe M. of Franco Manca, this is what he wrote:

Many thanks for you kind comments. Since your visit we have changed the house wine (which was there only temporarely) and have replaced with an organic wine. This makes possibly the best value for money in London. The wine list also includes 5 reds and 3 whites now. We work with an organic farm in Italy and this is the new outcome.

I sometimes hear from restaurants I review but I'd never had such positive response, thanks Giuseppe! The London Foodie on 2nd March 2010.

Franco Manca on Urbanspoon


  1. Your photos are absolutely fabulous! Need a pizza right now...

    It was great meeting both you and Dr G!

  2. I wish the Brixton one was a proper restaurant - i froze my arse off eating there twice! I agree - the wine is pretty disgusting but the pizzas... mmm.

  3. Lovely review. I love Franco Manca, especially the Chiswick branch as you don't have to queue for ages.

  4. Ha ha ! I remember when I went to the Brixton branch, I also had the red wine. Quite possibly the 'roughest' red I've had since adolescence ! Mind you at £9.20, I'd be suspicious of its quality. That said the pizzas were as good as you get in London - I think I had the same one as Dr G.

  5. Lovely post! I love Franco Manca, particularly the Chiswick branch where it's so much easier to get a table.

  6. @ Su-Lin - it was great meeting you again, thanks for inviting us to Franco Manca in Chiswick, I had wanted to go for sometime but Brixton Market, having lived by it for about 7 years, did not really appeal.

    @ Lizzie - oh no, I walked past it the other day and saw a huge queue outside, everyone was fighting for a bit of table outside and it was freezing, I've got to respect them for that! But then again, the pizza is sensational and it is incredibly good value.

    @ Ibzo - hi mate, nice to see you back here. Yep, totally agree, no queueing at Chiswick and plenty of tables too. It was a 45 mins drive for us (we live in Islington) but well worth it. I can't wait to go back.

    @ Mr Noodles - I know they certainly need to do something about that wine, surely there must be some passable organic wine around that will not break the bank, but they should not compromise on quality. I would have much rather paid a bit more for a better wine.

  7. Comment from "Taste of Beirut" (http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/):

    You made me wish I was in London; the pizzas look so tempting! btw, your recipe for stuffed cabbage sounds awesome; why don't you post it?

    From The London Foodie:

    Hi Joumana, apologies for accidentally "rejecting" your message - the joys of blogging at 6am, I am still a little jet lagged (just got back from Korea). I tried to publish the message later but apparently it gets deleted once rejected. Anyway, you made me think about posting more recipes. It is odd but I LOVE cooking but since I started my blog I have been eating out a lot and cooking less frequently. I think I should leave the dining room and get more stuck in at the kitchen! I will post that recipe and will let you know. Thanks.

  8. I haven't been to Franco Manca nor Pizza East... and though I've been leaning towards Pizza East, maybe FM deserves another look in! The pizzas look (and sound) VERY nice and it's great that the management care about how their clientele feel.

  9. Hi Catty, if you work in the City or live in Central London, Pizza East is very convenient although FM will cost you much less for similar quality. Have you tried Rossopomodoro? It is also very good.

  10. Hi Luiz - I love Franco Manca too. I've only been to the Brixton one - which is fun, but not handy to home. Must try Chiswick too.

  11. Hi Carly, I have never been to the one in Brixton, the long queue and outside eating area are a bit of turn off I think but the pizzas are great and hopefully the wine list is now a little better! The Chiswick branch is a proper restaurant, it is a long way to get to if you don't live in the area but well worth it!

  12. I've heard of Franco Manca but never been myself, from the looks of the pizzas and from the sound of it; I will have to take a look someday. I also love the Rossopomodoro which is in London. Their pizzas are very delicious.

  13. You write such a wonderful blog, I like the way of your writing. Thanks for sharing with us.

    pizza battersea

  14. We read your blog quite often. Thank's for the pizza reviews. We are coming in London in January again and trying to find the best pizza! :) Maybe we will try this one.

  15. Fantastic pizza and fantastic decor with our antique tiles.
    The choice of the central floor in patchwork makes the room lively and full of color


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