For fabulous pizza at recession-busting prices, slide on down to Brixton Market and feast on some of London’s finest organic Neapolitan fare.
This open-air pizza parlour sits among the rush and bustle of Market Row, moments from Electric Avenue, in the wild heart of Brixton. Franco Manca is open from 12pm to 5pm Monday till Saturday and boy, does it make its money in those hours. A handful of mix and match tables are eternally filled from open till close. The decor is as basic as it comes from old marble knock-offs a la Pizza Express to wooden pews and well-scrubbed benches. Dominating the open kitchen is a large egg-shaped wood-fired oven imported from Naples which cooks the legendary pizzas in under two minutes.
Franco Manca has all the appeal of a Neapolitan pizza parlour despite its unlikely location. Queuing is almost essential although thanks to the speediness of the service, this is usually limited to 10 to 15 minutes at the most. Locals dine to a chorus of fishmongers, butchers and squawking stall holders which all adds to the lively atmosphere. The clientele is generally a loyal bunch, who have taken the restaurant into their hearts.
Possibly the most surprising thing about this friendly little place is, not only are the pizza’s made from the fabulous slow-rising sour dough that makes Neapolitan pizzas so perfect, but the entire menu (drinks and all) is made from organic and if possible, locally-sourced produce, therefore making it completely guilt-free.
The menu is limited to six choices from the popular No. 1 with tomato, mozzarella and basil, to the seasonal No. 3, with wild mushroom, garlic and anchovy. Prices are exceptional value from £3.90 for a No. 6 (tomato, garlic and oregano) to the wholly reasonable £5.60 for No. 5 (a tomato, mozzarella and cured organic chorizo - from Brindisa no less). The No. 4 with garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovy and mozzarella is your quintessential Neapolitan pizza, the slow-leavened base is light and crisp and scattered with the biting tang of capers, anchovy and green olives and dotted with creamy fresh mozzarella. The only other thing on the menu is a bowl of organic salad (£1.50), a basic affair made with fresh leaves, fennel and radish with a light lemony dressing.
The drinks list is easily summed up as Short and Sweet and a bargain to boot. A bottle of organic Italian red wine is £6.50 (yep, £6.50!) the beer is a blonde lager from Hepworth & Co. in Sussex and is also organic. The homemade lemonade (£1) is a deep yellow, sweet and still version served in recyclable glass bottles. Post-pizza there is organic espresso (£1) from the Monmouth Coffee Company.
The Last Word
Not only is the pizza great, the atmosphere fun and the oh-so cheap prices irresistible but Franco Manca is one of the real highlights of organic dining in London.