Pizza has been a mainstay of my diet for as long as I can remember. From my teenage years and through my 20s I was probably averaging at least one a week.
This has reduced but I am still a regular user. With such steady consumption, I have had my fair share of deep pan disasters and even microwaved monstrosities. I’ve learned the hard way about what constitutes good and bad pizza.
One of the biggest successes of the recent pizza revolution is Franco Manca. It all started in Brixton market when Giuseppe Mascoli opened the first branch. Born out of a love for traditional Neapolitan pizzas that are honestly priced, the concept took off. Giuseppe has now sold up, but is still a majority shareholder, and the Franco Manca brand is nationwide and continuing to grow.
Brighton is home to two branches, the second at the marina having recently opened. I have sampled their wares at the city centre branch and was keen to try the new one.
Franco Manca have clearly decided to be consistent in the décor and styling of their restaurants. The marina branch is a carbon copy of the original, just more spacious and bright. The simple menu with six pizzas and daily specials maintains the ethos of doing
a few things right.
We kick off by sharing a burrata with salami from the specials board. This creamy cheese is a tasty and light start to a meal. The salami is good, if a little one dimensional.
Onto the main event. Franco Manca use sourdough for their pizza bases which results in a lighter and easily digestible dough. I go for a number four that comes with ham, ricotta and mushrooms, adding some stilton. My partner chooses a number six with chorizo and adds aubergine. Both pizzas come in at about £8 with the additional toppings, which is value you cannot argue with.
We quickly polish these off and engage into a comparison with other local pizzerias. The standard and quality of the pizzas is up there with the best Brighton has to offer, although we agree that they could’ve been a little more generous with the additional toppings. Something we both notice is that despite eating a pizza each we do not feel stuffed. We put this down to the base, which was incredibly soft with a tasty, light texture.
After a dessert of a rustic looking tiramisu, which while pleasant wasn’t quite boozy enough for my tastes, we depart. Last time I walked out of a pizzeria after two courses I had to go for a lie down I was so full. After this meal I could have happily strolled about and got on with my day.
Franco Manca pizzas are fantastic value, great quality and easy on the stomach. Yes, a large chain owns them now, and some people may be put off by that, but while the food is still of this standard and value what’s not to like? Trips to the marina have just got much tastier, and that can only be a good thing.
Unit 2, Waterfront, Brighton Marina