As a Chiswick resident I have always been intrigued by Franco Manca’s renowned pizza. The restaurant, which also has outlets at Brixton Market and Westfield Stratford, is filling a gap in the market to provide traditional artisan sourdough pizzas at very reasonable prices.
The atmosphere encourages guests to relax and unwind. Diners sit around the open kitchen, watching and smelling the cooking. Numerous friends have recommended this rustic and delicious pizza to me and I was delighted to be finally trying the Franco Manca food.
The Spring menu starters are simple and effective, and are served in cute dishes. Baked aubergine is layered with tomato and organic mozzarella, each component perfectly balanced and seasoned. My guest tried the Baked Gloucester Old Spot sausage with pecorino and tomato… it was wholesome and tasty though he ending up stealing half my starter – I always choose best. It became apparent very quickly that this restaurant puts a real emphasis on using the best local produce and organic ingredients. The recipes are simple but lovingly prepared which is shown in the high quality of food.
Our white wine was quaintly served in glass beakers, though I was a little disappointed with the lack of bottle cooler, a light and fruity bottle of organic white, refreshing and ideal on a breezy late summer evening. The pizzas are made with the best tomatoes, cheese, meat and vegetables so the taste has a Mediterranean freshness about it. I thought my pizza was the best, number 6: tomato, organic cured chorizo (dry and semi-dry) and mozzarella (£6.95) – a soft and airy base topped with peppery chorizo, rich in flavour and blissfully luxurious. We also ordered number 4 – topped with Gloucester Old Spot ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and wild mushrooms. This was a combination of ingredients that worked really well. I found the pizza bases a little on the thick side, but then again they need to be quite sturdy to hold the generous toppings. There is little choice at Franco Manca, no Calzone is on offer and variations are limited… I prefer this limitation as I find choice too stressful but can see some visitors being disappointed with the lack of variety.
Italian desserts are irresistible: my tiramisu was divine, light and fluffy cream, addictive coffee soaked sponge and chocolate… too good to leave unfinished. The ice-cream was nice too but a little bland in comparison with my star pudding.
A good local pizzeria is a special find, and I feel lucky that Chiswick has such a winner on its high street.
Visit the Franco Manca website here for more information.