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.