Franco Manca* has a bit of a reputation for making the best pizza this side of the Atlantic and after visiting the newly opened Southampton branch I have to agree. Compared to all the other pizzerias on the market there really is no comparison. With a selection of authentic slow-risen sourdough pizzas and delicious organic wines, an evening at Franco Manca is like an evening spent on the South Coast of Italy.
Upon arrival we were greeted with open arms, beaming smiles and a Aperol Spritz to start the evening. We were seated and introduced to the owner Giuseppe Mascoli who wanted to bring authentic neapolitan pizzas to his customers. Originally from Positano, Giuseppe wanted to bring perfect, simple food at affordable prices. After only a few minutes of talking it is clear to see how passionate Giuseppe and all the staff are about the brand and the experience they are offering.
After opening in London in 2008, Franco Manca has seen huge success and if you ask most Londoners they will agree this is hands down the best pizza on the market. Although the menu is very streamlined, with only 6 pizzas on the menu as well as two daily specials (one meat and one veggie) the focus is on providing fresh and flavoursome products to a high quality. All the ingredients are sourced as authentically as possible with a lot of care and attention going into each and every ingredient chosen. The olives and olive oil used are from Spain, with the tomatoes used procured from a cannery situated in the mountains next to Naples. Franco Manca also produce their own Mozzarella in an organic farm in Somerset and most of their cured meats are sourced from an organic estate.
Once everyone had arrived we were served a selection of antipasto which included cured meats, chilli garlic bread made with scotch bonnets, buffalo mozzarella and a buffalo cheese ball filled with double cream and even more cheese. I am not the biggest lover of mozzarella but I found theirs to be so buttery and rich, everything we tried was simply divine. Next up was a pizza masterclass from Giuseppe himself about how to create the perfect pizza. Although I didn’t participate it was so fascinating to find out the process in which the pizzas were made. The sourdough is left to ferment for at least 20 hours before being crafted into pizzas. They are then placed in an authentic wood pizza oven which reaches temperatures of 500 degrees centigrade. Each pizza takes 55 seconds to cook to perfection creating just the right balance of a light, crisp crust and soft, chewy inside. They are placed in and out of the oven using a wooden paddle which is a vital step in creating the perfect pizza.
We tried a selection of pizzas from the menu which were all equally as delicious before being introduced to Franco Manca’s very own wine connoisseur Francesco. On their menu they offer a range of authentic, organic Italian wines. They have even fermented their own range of natural wines which are unfiltered with very low sulphates. Personally I am more of a white wine drinker but the whole experience was so educational and I even tried a couple of red wines that I really enjoyed. We tried a range from light to medium-full, as well as a sparkling labrusca which was absolutely delicious.
Overall the evening was one of the best I’ve had in a very long time. This authentic neapolitan pizza house delivers on service and taste with the clear care and attention into every single item on the menu. With prices from as low as £4.95 and bottles of wine coming in at less than £20, a night at Franco Manca definitely will not break the bank. We each received a goodie bag and signed recipe book at the end of the evening and I can’t wait to recreate some of Giuseppe’s recipes at home for me and Gavin to enjoy. A big thank you to the whole team for organising such a perfect evening. I am already counting down until my next visit.
Tanya Noreen XO
*Complimentary meal in exchange for review. See disclaimer.