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Jan 4, 2010 11:15 AM

Franco Manca, Brixton, London

Good dough in the pizza, a pleasant medium bodied chewy consistency, solid flavour. The crust however, is a little too floppy, the crispness super thin at the base, and barely detectable, despite the nice scorching. I would have preferred a more substantial crispy base beneath the hewy main body. But the dimensions are about right for a near optimal chewy/crispy ratio if they get the crust perfected.

Had a white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella and wild mushrooms (I think Jfores recommended this). Mozzarella is ok, but as described before, certainly nothing like the real deal from Campania. Ricotta is better, richer, fuller body. Very good woodsy flavour from the wild mushrooms. Appreciated the olive oil at the table for on the spot drizzling.

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  1. That's exactly how the dough is supposed to be, I think they've pretty much perfected it. Neapolitans will tell you that at the centre, the dough should be as thin as pasta. It never gets crispy (many even describe it as soggy because of the tomato sauce), though some pizzerias will bake a dough with nothing at all on it as a bread, and that will get close to crispy if it's thin enough. Franco Manca make a thicker version of it, which you can buy at the cafe a few doors down (I forget what they call it).

    I find Franco Manca to be the best pizza I've had in Europe outside of Naples. I'm very partial to Neapolitan pizza, so things like the Pizza Bianca at the Forno Campo di Fiori in Rome ( don't quite do it for me. And the traditional way to appreciate a Neapoletan pizza is either as a Margherita (crushed tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) or a Marinara (crushed tomato, garlic and oregano). In fact those are the only two food items at my favorite pizzeria in the world (Da Michele in Naples), who also uses cow rather than buffalo mozzarella.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Malik

      re: crust -- the pizza I had wasn't as crispy at the bottom as a superlative version I had in Naples (I believe it was Antica Pizzeria e Frittitura which was favoured by a native Neapolitan friend), where the pizza needed to be eaten within ~5-10 minutes out of the oven precisely because the crispy thin crust would get soggy after that. There are probably variations even within Naples, from place to place. My ideal would have been a thin crust that was crispy at the bottom, and with a chewy layer above it.

      And yes, agree on the magherita being the traditional way in Naples, but had been forewarned about the quality of FM's mozzarella by Jfores.

      1. re: limster

        I've never heard of Antica Pizzeria e Frittitura (the only two Google hits on it are a couple of old posts of yours on CH), so maybe it was called something else? I did try probably a dozen different pizzerias from various recommendations over two trips to Naples, and in the end Da Michele is still my favorite (though Gino Sorbillo is also pretty damn good).

        Since the tomatoes are uncooked going in, and they're only in the oven for a couple of minutes or so, all tomato based pizzas will get soggy very quickly. The Margheritas are worse, as the mozzarella seals the moisture in, which is why many will judge a pizzeria by its Marinara. But do try the Margherita at Franco Manca, I've had it a half dozen times and have never been disappointed. And while the DOP pizza calls for Bufala, the best pizzas I've had in Naples have always used Fior di Latte, despite the amazingly good Bufala available there.

        1. re: Malik

          It's possible I didn't get the name accurately, or the whole name, but my Neapolitan friend said it was quite an obscure place, well at least back then.

          And yes, agree about the soggy part, it's inevitable, but the reward for inhaling a pizza right out of the oven, before the sauce softens the crust, is totally worth it.

    2. Sorry to contraddict all of you.
      I'm Italian and my favourite pizza is the one I make...said that, out of Italy there's one place I really LOVE: Pappagone in Stroud Green. Their pizza is amazing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MaryUk82

        Do you have a favourite type of pizza at Pappagone? Also do they make calzones? Thanks for the info!

        1. re: limster

          Amazingly enough we tried Pappagone for the first time today, though we live nearby. Verdict: pretty excellent. We had a Piemontese (mozz, sausage and rocket) that was really near perfect, were especially impressed by the proper mozzarella and very fennelly sausage. The other (forgot the name, sorry) had tomato sauce, rocket and bresaola. This one was pretty good if not quite as fabulous as the Piemontese. This place will definitely be our destination when we want pizza, the best we have had in London yet. We did not try any pasta dishes or starters but the ones we saw waiters carrying by looked pretty good, especially the fried whitebait starter.

          One complaint: the pizza is served on a regular plate rather than a heated surface, which lets the (otherwise excellent) crust get soggy.