As avid readers of my blog (if such creatures exist) will be aware, I have previously written about my pursuit of pizza pilgrimage. In doing so, I claimed that Franco Manca got the better of Pizza Pilgrims, in the battle for the best sourdough pizza that a student budget can afford. It would be remiss, therefore, for me not to put that claim to the test and reveal my findings (either that, or I just wanted an excuse to return to Franco Manca). So, here it is: the second instalment of my quest for pilgrimage.
What do they do?
Franco Manca prides itself on providing high-quality sourdough pizza at an almost alarmingly reasonable price. There are now over 20 branches of Franco Manca across London, and – with bookings not being an option – each one is visibly oversubscribed most nights of the week. The menu is simple and is the same (specials, aside) in each of the branches: this not only means that you know what you’re getting, but also means that you can get a margherita for under 6 quid in Soho – a rare find.
What did we have?
I had the Cured Organic Chorizo pizza (£6.95); my friend had the Spot Ham, Buffalo Ricotta, and Wild Mushrooms pizza (£6.85).
The toppings were more generous than those at Pizza Pilgrims, with a good amount of chorizo (a personal favourite), but I felt as though I’d been diddled in comparison to the harm, ricotta and mushrooms extravaganza. However, it’s not all about the toppings – Franco Manca thrives due to its doughy crusts. I’ve been to Franco Manca a few times, and never has it disappointed in this respect: the crust is plentiful and stodgy in an undeniably satisfying way. Couple this with the chilli oil (which, in my view, is distinctly tastier, albeit less fiery, than that of Pizza Pilgrims), and you’ve got a winning combo.
We went for the Bianco (the house white – £14.95), which was light and refreshing, and came in a rather groovy bottle. Apparently it was free of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers – top marks for naturalness. Disappointingly, Franco Manca and Pizza Pilgrims are aligned in terms of glassware – neither has grasped that wine genuinely tastes better out of an appropriate glass. We didn’t have beers on this occasion, but they serve No Logo beers at £3.35, which it’s worth noting are very good indeed, for the price.
Value for money: 5/5 – the bill (minus tip) came in under £15 per head. Crazy value.
Pretentiousness: 2/5 – tumblers aside, Franco Manca is genuine and no-nonsense.
Atmosphere: 3/5 – it’s a bit too dark downstairs, but other than that it’s nice. Bonus marks for the open kitchen where you can see pizzas being prepared/tossed in the wood fired oven.
Franco Manca offers extraordinary value, with good variety and perfectly tasty drinks. It’s also consistently good – given that you’re never far from a Franco Manca, it’s an useful safe bet to have in your back pocket!