Franco Manca

If Wagamama is the best choice for fast, cheap and delicious Japanese food, Busaba for Thai food, Wahaca for Mexican, then Franco Manca should complete the list as the restaurant for inexpensive and simple Italian pizza.

We visited the Chiswick branch of this restaurant in Spring. The white wood-burning oven was the dominating element of the basic, white-tiled rectangular dining area. The only thing that interrupted this immaculately clean image was the brown basic benches scattered in the dinning area and pictures of raw ingredients, animal produce or pizza-making at the walls.

We noticed the relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere from the moment we were greeted by the polite and young waiters. At the dinning area, where we were shown to our table, we noticed the metal bucket at the middle of the table containing the cutlery, carefully wrapped in individual napkins and paper placemats which, as is typical for most restaurants of this type, double as menus. We visited on a rainy, Saturday early afternoon, so there was plenty of space.

The menu is pretty basic; there are only 6 different pizzas to chose from and some starters and a salad. Almost all the starters are based on dough and are oven-baked, which makes sense, as Franco Manca doesn’t seem to have an elaborate kitchen, other than the wood-fire oven. But what it lacks for variety οf dishes, it makes up for taste.

Despite the simplicity of the menu, all the dishes we sampled in the restaurant were delicious. The garlic bread had a welcoming but not overpowering flavour, and the baked aubergines were divine. But the real revelation was the pizza: prepared with slow-rising sordough that takes 20 hours prepare, and mostly organic ingredients, the pizza was baked to perfection and the flavours of the individual ingredients evident.

An even more daring step is to strip the menu off any artificial fizzy drinks. You can not order a coke in this restaurant, as it is not included in the menu. Instead, you could quench you thirst with fresh, home-made lemonade, beer or wine from a carefully selected – albeit limited- list.

Most importantly, a visit at Franco Manca will not cost you much. A lunch for two people excluding wine only cost us approximately 22 GBP (11 GBP per person). But it is the relaxed atmosphere and the delicious food that will bring us back; hungry for more.

Lambda.

P.S. Franco Manca is located at 144 Chiswick High Road, W4 1PU (Google Map) and at Unit 4, Market Row, Sw9 8LD (Google Map, Streetview) at Brixton.

all images © Franco Manca

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