The weekend just gone saw me try a total of 3 restaurants that I have been wanting to visit for absolutely ages. The first of which was Dirty Bones, and the second was Franco Manca, a sour dough pizza restaurant that can be found in several different locations across London, the closest to me being the branch located on Tottenham Court Road in the place that was once home to Ultimate Burger which is sadly no more. But it’s not too sad really, because Franco Manca is a fantastic replacement.
As is the fashion in London at the moment, this restaurant operates a ‘no reservations’ policy, it is simply first come/first served. We arrived not long after 1pm, and we had a few tables to choose from. By the time we left, a queue was beginning to form. It would seem its popularity peeks just before 2pm. The centre piece of the restaurant is a large wood burning oven surrounded by a large preparation station, the the decor is fresh, light and uncomplicated, much like their menu.
To begin with, you should know the drinks list is organic – you will not be ordering a coke in this place. You should instead be ordering a small bottle of their organic lemonade for £1.90, which is light with a very subtle lemon flavour. If anything it tastes more like a cloudy apple juice with a hint of sharpness. Either way it is thirst quenching and delicious, and a great addition to the meal. Filtered water is provided free of charge. Also available are a selection of organic wines and some bottled beers.
The food menu is equally simple but exciting. As standard, you have 6 to choose from with prices starting from £4.50 and escalating up to £6.95. Incredibly reasonable I am sure you will agree, considering the quality of the ingredients. You can pimp your pizza if you wish, with a selection of extra toppings priced between 50p and £1.95. I chose the £6.75 Number 3: Wild Broccoli, Mozzarella, Gloucester Old Spot Hand Sliced Sausage (no tomato) and added on a couple of slices of Sweet Potato for an extra £1.50. A superb choice (both the pizza and the extra topping) As the pizza itself is made from a slow rising sour dough (min 20 hours of proving!) and is then baked in a wood burning brick oven, the pizza has a great, almost earthy taste – in fact, the base is slightly charcoal-y which gives it a slightly bitter taste which is pleasant and adds another dimension to each mouthful. The Old Spot Sausage was fantastic! Meaty, full of flavour and spread in big chunks across my entire pizza. The big slices of sweet potato were a great addition (well done me!) and gave the pizza a slightly more summery taste (In fact, I don’t know if the pizza would have been as good without them, to be honest) and the broccoli, while a bit sporadic with placement, was the nice healthy touch that I needed. It’s rare that I have a pizza that doesn’t have a tomato base, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the mozzarella base provided enough flavour to hold it all together.
Josh’s choice was the £6.95 Number 4: Gloucester Old Spot Ham (home cured!) Mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta, Wild Mushrooms with a little bit of a tomato sauce base. He also added some extra toppings in the form of Capers (£1.20) and Broccoli (£1.50). I asked him what it tasted like, and his response was “healthy” – I’d class that as a positive review! He also sang the praises of the wild mushrooms and the home cured ham. We both struggled to finish our pizzas due to them being so filling, sacrificing the soft crust which we had until half way through the meal been dipping in the chilli oil that was provided on our table. A small caution: this chilli oil is the strongest I think i’ve ever tried. Don’t douse over your pizza before you’ve tried it, as you may find your tastebuds have dis-intergrated by the end of your meal!
It’s really no wonder why this place fills up so quickly during a service. This was a great lunch that filled us up nicely for a very reasonable price, and while we left feeling unable to eat another bite, we didn’t feel guilty that we’d just stuffed our face with pizza as they were baked with such good quality, fresh ingredients. It’s great to know that they also do take-aways which can either be ordered in advance or in house. They offer a speedy service so whether you’re sitting or leaving, you won’t have to wait long to enjoy one of these delicious sour dough delights.