Franco Manca itself started out as Franco’s, a humble pizzeria in London’s Brixton Market opened by a guy called, you guessed it, Franco, in 1986. In 2008, however, Franco passed the business to friend Giuseppe Mascoli, who with artisan baker Bridget Hugo, founded the restaurant chain, taking its name from the Italian for ‘Franco is missing’ in a homage to its original founder.
Heavily influenced by Neapolitan cuisine, Giuseppe and Bridget built a special wood-fired oven and introduced their smoky, slow-rising sourdough pizza – freshly made with naturally leavened bread for an intense flavour dough and a crispy, chewy crust – to London’s casual dining scene.
Despite the pair never having run a restaurant before, the pizzeria was a hit, its focus being on properly sourced, small supplier, seasonal ingredients, its cheese and flour coming from Italy and chorizo from Spain. It is also great value. Its ‘margherita’ will set you back just a fiver, its priciest pizza, just £9. Keeping things simple, there are also only seven pizzas on the menu, alongside salads, gluten-free and vegan options.