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Franco Manca - Underwhelming


Restaurants & Bars 68

Franco Manca - Underwhelming

JFores | Oct 18, 2008 06:53 AM


I finally made it to Franco Manca. I went over to Brixton market to pick up some things that I just can't find in the east (Thai stuff and some Italian stuff, basically.) We arrived nearly 30 minutes early and waited because of the stories about lines. The wait was pleasant, fine, and we were solicited for DVD sales and marijuana once each. Ah, to your table service. Once the rush was on it was most definitely on. A line stretched to nearly the market entrance (on the much closer side, of course) and all of the seats were filled. We ended up sharing our table with two (pretty damn funny) guys, but it was a bit cramped. Onto the food and drink.

The wine was drinkable and at 1.20 a glass I wasn't complaining, but the pizza had some serious issues. We ordered a tomato, garlic, and oregano pie as well as a tomato, garlic, oregano, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, and olives pie. Both had their pros and cons, but I would have to say that the overall experience was very underwhelming. The oregano, garlic, and tomato had a well-made sauce. A thoroughly damn good pizza sauce. The oregano was scant, but flavorful. On the other hand, the garlic was virtually non-existent. I was happily expecting whole or at least halved cloves. The really awful part was the crust, dough, etc. While pizza and pita enjoy a similar heritage, there is no way in hell that a pizza dough should remind me of its Greek forefather. This dough was soft. Too soft. The crust had no life and was partially uncooked at it's deepest bits. This was, however, the very first pie to come out of their entire oven and therefore the oven wasn't hot enough yet. I'll write that off as an oven issue, but they should have let it warm up properly then. The second pie (and likely their second pie out of the oven) had a vastly superior crust which I think was very good. It had a light crispiness and an all around excellent consistency. Delicious. However, the topping combination was just too salty. I like salty. Salty is great. However, the capers clearly weren't soaked before they were put on (they were brine capers, but still. Waaaay too strong.) That wasn't the worst of it though. The anchovies would have been wonderfully pleasant if they had a quick rinse and maybe a resoak in some fresh olive oil, but these clearly went from jar to pizza to oven with disastrously salty results. I wasn't impressed. Also, their farm sourced mozzarella was not fresh and bordered on flavorless. It was just melted into a semi solid, rather than that creamy amazing melt that fresh mozzarella would achieve. Again, not impressed. The sauce was still excellent and the dough was great on this one, though.

My recommendation is to wait at a table from before opening, order a simple sfincione-like tomato, garlic, and oregano pie, BUT ask for it to be well-done and ask for them to put halved or whole cloves of garlic on top of it. I think that would create a very solid pizza. As is, the stuff they're tossing out is pretty bad and I find it laughable that it would be rated the best pizza in the UK.

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