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I trudged down Northcote road at 6pm. Day long, work hard, sleep inevitable. Dodging the feet around me I cursed my hunger. Delaying my sleep was a dinner out. My girlfriend, Sophie, in tow tried her best to raise me from my mood in vain. Walking in near silence we passed the boutique shops and small restaurants that make up this great London road. Sophie’s feet disappeared from my view and I looked up. We were here, Franco Manca.
Through the glass windows I could see the distinctly rustic Italian interiors. My nostrils flared as they picked up the sweet pizza aroma. A delicious mix of fresh bread, tangy tomato and creamy cheese. Eyes widening we walked through the door into the warmth. A waiter showed us to a table, private, in the back. Sitting down he explained the menu to us at break neck speed. From what I gathered you chose one of the pizzas, or a salad, and drinks were on the right hand side. The menu, small, was full of text, stories of the restaurant’s creation, their values and ambitions. Most interesting was the paragraph explaining their methodology.
Unlike your standard pizza chain they make their pizza’s from their own sourdough, rested for 24 hours before baking. The 24 hour resting time allows the gluten within the bread to start breaking down, apparently you don’t need a Diet Coke to help digest this pizza.
A simple soul my mind was immediately captivated by pizza 6. Tomato, chorizo and mozzarella. Simplicity of flavour in the extreme. By this point I had lifted out of my mood, Sophie was sitting across from me animatedly explaining the reasons behind her order between sips of wine. A lovely sweet organic red to accompany our meal. Conversation flowed and my mood became buoyant, the excitement had arrived. Waiters whisked steaming pizzas across to other customers, each one carrying hope before passing by. But after a short wait it arrived.
The sourdough pizza is a beautiful thing. The crust puffy and soft with the base thin, just like a pizza should be. Covered in thick, red, fresh tomato sauce with large swathes of melted cheese, pock-marked by chorizo, the anticipation built. I took the bottle of olive oil on the table and lightly dripped it across the top.
The first bite was heavenly. The base though thin is wonderfully soft. On the tongue the clean taste of peppery sweet tomato hits first, wonderfully backed up by the wonderful creamy flavour of Italian mozzarella. Before the bite is over the chorizo sets in growing in stature with each chew until a delightful spicy sweet mix is what is left. It is difficult to speak whilst eating. This is a pizza which demands the full attention of your senses from start to finish. Their dough hypothesis seems correct. Afterwards you feel light, full but able to move without pain. An unexpected privilege.
In my opinion Franco Manca is one of, if not the best pizza you can have in London. Every part of it has been meticulously thought out to create an offering that is new but also familiar from start to finish. For the price it is unbeatable, a whole meal coming to £10 per person. My first 5 star review, thoroughly deserved.