It may seem silly to go out for a pizza that costs half the price of the Brighton to London train fare that got you there, but Franco Manca is worth travelling for. I still struggle with the fact that good pizza the UK is as rare as an ice cube in the Sahara and am planning on building a pizza oven in my back garden in sheer exasperation. Still, pizza is a passion for me and until my oven is built, search I shall continue.
Tucked away in Brixton Market, next to a fish stall, you wait patiently in a long line for a few sacred tables, being unceremoniously ushered, hollered at and ordered to move, stay still or sit. Woof! You avoid oncoming pedestrians, market deliveries and an unhinged man shouting something indecipherable at the top of his voice. Heck, you may as well be in Naples! And then you are finally rewarded with a seat, a very fine drink (Samuel Smith's Organic larger as I hear the vino isn't up to much) and a plate of circular heaven.
The 20 hour minimum, slowly risen sourdough base is thin and terrifically aerated and chewy. The wood burning oven used to quickly zap the pizzas is smokily evident, adding to the flavour. I went for a classic margarita as I really wanted to taste the base which is softer than you would expect but folds and eats beautifully. I really liked the way the grassy olive oil pooled into the centre and the sauce was perfect in taste and quantity.
As we were a group of six, sharing enabled us to try pretty much everything on the brief menu. Tomato, two types of chorizo (dried and semi-dried) and mozzarella:
Tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, mozzarella and about the best anchovies I have ever tried:
One of the specials that was too far down the table for me to nab a bit. I do love a sprinkling of peppery rocket on top of pizza!
All of which summoned up high praise, oohs and ahhs. Pizzas cost from £4.50 to £6.95, so all in you'd be hard pushed to spend £15 in all. The only thing I would like to see is some Italian beer and possibly San Pellegrino soft drinks, including the hard to come by Chino.
We left satisfied, kissed on both cheeks by a sweet little piece of Italy.
4 Market Row
London SW9 8LD