Franco Manca. The best pizza in London. Possibly Europe. Potentially the world. Yes, it’s a big call Sam Newman, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.
You wouldn’t really expect to find a serious contender for the highly competitive title of best pizza in Brixton, south London, a place usually more famous for jerk chicken and guns. Walk through the sights
(goat carcasses, shrivelled dried fish), sounds (reggae, dub, one love under Jah) and smells (fishy, meaty, inner city) of Brixton’s rambling street market to get to Franco Manca, which operates out of two holes in the wall on either side of an arcade in the covered market on Electric Lane.
Franco Manca takes its pizza capital S seriously. Their specials board lays it on the line, – “Neapolitan fundamentalism” is chalked up along the bottom. They use a sourdough made from two kinds of organic flour
sourced from outside Naples for their base. As the foundation of a great pizza, nothing is more important than nurturing dough that will become crispy but chewy bases in the wood fired furnace. We over
ordered – three pizzas between me and The Man – and all were outstanding. The bases had exactly the right level of flexibility and chewiness, the crust was charred in a few places and beautifully bubbled from the intense heat. The passata actually tasted of tomato and suggested a long, intimate involvement with no small amount of oregano. The margherita showed off the purity of their approach, the Neapolitan with capers, as well as olives and anchovies was salty deliciousness and the sausage (fresh & dry chorizo) addictive. They only offer 6 pizzas, plus 2 specials, one kind of organic beer, one red, one white wine, and it’s only open 12-5 Mon to Sat. They know what they’re on about and no messing.
Word has got out about this place and the queue was a good 40 people long when we arrived. But we’d made the trek from north London to south in the spirit of adventure (with compass, water bottle and
passport) and weren’t going to be deterred by a few other punters. Although, as a side note, there was an amusing difference in the clientele queueing for Franco Manca and those doing their shopping at the African fabric shop & middle eastern dry goods emporium, wheelie trollies trailing behind. It’s run by a frenetic sergeant major Italian guy who bosses this substantial queue of stroppy hungry Londoners around and keeps it all moving pretty swiftly – it’s a tightly run operation, probably not the place for a romantic dinner for two. Tables are shared as necessary to cram everyone in, which – shock of shocks for aggro London- actually led to us being invited to drinks at the pub round the corner by the chatty couple sitting next to us!
So. Franco Manca. Best pizza in London.