Franco Manca in Brixton is very well known (and adored) for their sourdough pizzas, with glorious bases which when baked rise to be charred and smokey on the outside, yet soft and light on the in. They have great pride and are extremely careful when sourcing their ingredients to ensure that everything looks and tastes fresh and is full of flavour. I’ve always been happy to queue for pizza in Brixton Market, even to the extreme of getting a parking ticket just so I could savour the entirety of the crust, and due to this widespread popularity, the team have branched out to Chiswick and more recently, to the food court of Westfield, Stratford.
Eating food out in shopping centres has never appealed to me so I was pleasantly surprised, if not slightly dubious, about Franco Manca’s appearance on Westfield’s world food court. The court spans an impressive selection of cuisines including Thai food from Rosa’s, Vietnamese from Pho and Mexican from Wahaca’s. I would have been happy eating in any of them.
Unfortunatley the court cannot escape the school dinner canteen atmosphere, with its’ harshly bright lighting, uncomfortable chairs and tables with red trays to carry your food to, and a friendly cleaner who unfortunately had to clean constantly around us to keep up with the quick flow of diners. Despite this, the pizza was great, not as brilliant as I’ve had in Brixton but still better than anything I would have expected to eat that day.
Two of us shared a Chorizo Pizza which is a staple on the menu and the special (a nice touch) of Veal Mortadella, Peppers and Rocket. The chorizo pizza was the better of the two. They use two types of Brindisa chorizo which are both heavenly, paprika heavy, soft and spicy, and compliment the fresh tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella perfectly. The portion of chorizo however, was just too small and got lost on the huge, generously sized pizza. A couple of slices more and it would have been totally perfect.
The veal mortadella was slightly disappointing; nothing had enough ummphh. The mortadella was good but the flavours were too delicate and got lost and the peppers were just sweet, not at all spicy, and didn’t really add much to the pizza. It really needed a huge glug of chilli or garlic oil to loosen it all up which is normally in abundance at their other restaurants but in this branch, were kept safely on the ordering counter.
Having read some reviews of the Chiswick branch, it looks like they have also suffered with silly mistakes (TimeOut, a rather unusual chinaman, Will eat for money). This will never put me off going back to Brixton as I have had consistently brilliant food there, but this does highlight the need for the team to iron out any issues before they spread any further. I would love a world where the brilliant Franco Manca of Brixton would become widely available and appreciated by the masses for the fantastic dishes they are able to produce.