So, I'm waking down Coldharbour lane, head hung low, three or four in the afternoon. The sun was out, the Clash was playing. ...A Clash song really was really playing when I got of the tube in Brixton on a dreary afternoon last December. For various reasons, I've spent a decent amount of time in London over the last few years. But, I had gone to Brixton this day for three explicit reasons: to visit the Brixton market, to see the neighborhood which has been the subject of some good music, and to try what was supposed to be one of the best Neapolitan pizzerias in London - Franco Manca.
The pizzeria is located inside the Brixton market. Frano Manca is quite small and the restaurant is actually split into two parts with tables on either side of the arcade. Despite visiting at three in the afternoon, I had a short wait. After being seated, one of the first things I noticed is that the walls of the restaurant were decorated by various cartoon drawings. They were political in nature and more or less, insane. But oh well, I go for the pizza, not that what-have-you...
Franco Manca is owned by Neapolitan Giuseppe Macoli and attempts to produce authentic Neapolitan pizza made with organic ingredients. The key (as for most great pizzas) was the crust. Franco Manca uses a sourdough crust. It is made via a slow-rise method, which takes a minimum if twenty hours, and then baked in a wood burning brick oven at 930 Fahrenheit. To quote the menu "The slow levitation and blast-cooking process lock in the flour's natural aroma and moisture giving a soft and easily digestible crust." I can say that the final result was quite pleasing.
But, you can have great crust, and still produce mediocre pizza. That was not the case here. Mr. Macoli puts a great deal of care into picking ingredients. The cheese is a locally produced buffalo mozzarella (a rare thing in England). All the toppings were organic, although not local. Most were shipped from Sicily, Naples, and Spain. I ordered the pizza with Chorizo (from Brindisa). The sausage was vivid and spicy. It was quite tasty. For the sauce, Franco Manca uses only tomatoes from Salerno and those tomatoes are only picked in July and August. A little salt is added to make some simple but quite good sauce. So, overall it's a very thoughtfully crafted pie.
It was simply an excellently crafted pizza and was one of the best I've ever had. It was also pretty cheap, which is rare in London, and very rare considering the long stories behind every ingredient. I ordered the most expensive 12-13 inch pizza on the menu and only paid £6.80. So, the pizza was great all around. I highly recommend Franco Manca's pizza if you ever find yourself in the area.
Now, the obligatory Brixton tracks. Listen to these and the first two lines of my review will make sense ;-):