Review: Franco Manca Pizza, Brighton

You know all about my obsession with pizzas, and finding the best that Brighton has to offer (and if you don’t, read this). I once ate at four different pizzerias in one night with my pal Fran (The Graphic Foodie) and we thought our search for our holy grail was over…. until now.

Hailing from Brixton Market, Franco Manca sourdough pizza was born in 2008, and now has 20 sites in London (and counting), with Brighton being its first outside of the capital. ‘What, another London chain descending on us?’ I hear some of your groan! Well hush your gums and read on, because if you’re a pizza lover, then you’re going to need to be trying this place…

It’s a short menu of simple pleasures in which the six pizzas are the main event, with a couple more on the special’s board, as well as a few salads and cured meat platters for good measure. Lovely stuff.

I shan’t dress this up for you; on both my visits I’ve got rip-roaringly drunk. It may be to do with mixing a deadly combo of aperol, prosecco, wine and beer, or the fact that the wine is served in 175ml tumblers and is remarkably easy to drink, or it might just be that I am a big ol’ lush who needs to learn that the grape and the grain are not, and never will be, great bed fellows. Whatever the reason, it’s led to being mingingly hungover on both occasions.

Anyway after that little rant about my recreational boozing habits, just know, that the alcohol list is short but sweet, and if they offer you a limoncello… well, I wouldn’t recommend it if I was you.

Buffalo mozzarella and bresaola 

Wild pig fennel, cantarelli and honey

They do right by the free range, dry-cured animals, until the end, by serving them with a simple garnish and nothing else, allowing the quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves. Priced at £5.75 and £4.75 respectively, I think these meat platters are exceptionally good value and a great size, too. Perfect for picking at with a burrata and an Aperol spritz while you wait for your pizza to arrive.

Burrata Pugliese

Burrata (meaning buttery) is like the badass brother, of the very best buffalo mozzarella you ever did eat. After cutting through the thin shell, the slightest nudge of the knife sent curds and cream oozing onto the toasted bread and salad beneath it. Well worth ordering.

Special: asparagus, proscuitto and cantarelli (no tomato)

6 – tomato, cured chorizo & mozzarella

5 – tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies, mozzarella

My very own heart-shaped pizza – this made me all sorts of happy before even tasting it, but from my first bite I knew, that every bit of hype surrounding their pizzas, was totally deserved.

Some might consider the pizzas above to have a scant amount of topping, but actually, this just allows you to savour the taste of the great quality tomato sauce whilst appreciating the smoky flavour of the chewy, sourdough base, with a cornicione beautifully charred from the wood-fired oven. So impressed was I that I messaged Fran a picture there and then, captioned; ‘LOOK AT THE LEOPARDING ON THAT BAD BOY’. She was suitably impressed too, read her review here.

Cantarelli, olives, mixed leaf salad

As I write this I’m having mini flashbacks of drunkenly congratulating the Franco Manca bosses on choosing to put ‘loos’ on their signage instead of the ubiquitous ‘toilets’… they must have thought I was a bit mental, but having a Father who frowned upon me saying the ‘t word’ more than swearing, it’s something that’s been drummed into me from an early age. Anyway… great LOOS.

Chocolate & hazelnut cake / Lemon & almond cake

Both cakes were served warm and squidgey in the middle, but for me the lemon cake served with yoghurt and drizzled with honey, was the standout of the two.

On both of my visits it’s been packed, granted the first evening was a ‘friends and family’* event, but on each occasion the service was slick and the atmosphere buzzing. They’ve got it all just right.

I’ve been very vocal about where I think does the best pizzas in Brighton, for me it’s always been Nuposto… but is Franco Manca’s offering better? Yes, I think it probably is… the pizzas are of a very similar standard indeed, but in terms of venue, location, price point and atmosphere – they blow my old favourite clean out of the water.

The frequent queues out of the door don’t lie, doing serious stuff to simple ingredients, at a low cost has made Franco Manca quite the foodie destination, in just a matter of weeks, and unless something goes horribly wrong, I can’t see that changing any time soon. I bloody love it, and can’t recommend it enough.

Have you been to Franco Manca Brighton yet? Where’s your favourite place to eat pizza in Brighton? Hit me up in the comments section or on any of my social networks (links below).

*any meals which were free of charge are clearly stated or marked with an asterisk, you can read my full disclaimer here.

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