Franco Manca Pizzeria, Reading.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Franco Manca pizza flatlay

When a new pizzeria opens up near by, it's pretty much a dead cert that I will be aware of it. As a self confessed pizza obsessive, I clocked the Franco Manca restaurant on the riverside in Reading before it had officially opened it's doors. So you can imagine my delight when an email popped in my inbox inviting me to to a complimentary dinner and wine tasting event one weekday evening. 

For those of you that don't know. Franco Manca is a pizzeria specializing in the traditional neopolitan soft base pizzas. The first restaurant opened in Brixton back in 2008, and as it's popularity has grown, more have opened throughout London and the South of England. Their ingredients are fresh and sourced from suppliers within the British Isles and Europe. The top dogs/Head Chefs from Franco Manca even go out on a team building exercise, hunting for the wild garlic they use in their pesto.

The Menu may be relatively simple, consisting of 6 pizza options but that doesn't mean it doesnt lack variety. We were treated to several different meats & cheeses to start. Of which included buffalo Mozzerella prepared 3 different ways accompanied by wild boar salami, wild pig salami and Prosciutto from Langhirano. In addition to this garlic and rosemary flatbed was served with Goats cheese and Franco Mancas freshly made garlic pesto. I can tell you, those platters didn't stay full for long. We all enjoyed the selection of antipasi dishes. 

Franco Manca bites antipasi mozzerella salami
Franco Manca bites antipasi Prosciutto
Franco Manca Garlic and Rosmary flat bread

The event itself was really chilled and relaxed. While we sipped on fresh homemade lemonade, and no logo beers, we were given the chance to watch as head chef Alfie showed us how Franco Manca prepare their infamous sour dough. He explained how all the dough is made in-house a day in advance. This 24 hour fermentation period ensures the dough has a good texture, great taste and added nutritional values. Alfie showed us the correct mixing technique used to create the perfect sourdough along with the ingredients required. For the perfect dough, Starter is used in the mixture rather than dry yeast. This 'living food' of flour & water contains a yeast  producing good bacteria, which is a vital ingredient for the perfect sourdough base. In Readings Franco Manca, the kitchen is open plan, meaning you can see the various chefs fulfilling orders from the comfort of your seat. Despite the small work area, they work efficiently and quickly to get the pizzas out, helped hugely by the large wood fired stone oven which cooks the pizzas within about 50 seconds! Now that is fast food!

Franco Manca Chorizo sourdough pizza preperation
Franco Manca sourdough  Neapolitan Chorizo pizza.

As previously mentioned, their menu consists of 6 pizza options, however as of Monday 17th of July another has been added. Pizza no 7; A favourite of Franco Mancas executive chef Alfonso', including spicy sausage, buffalo ricotta and yellow piennollo tomatoes. It's one that I'm sure will be just as popular as the original 6. If you're looking for your pasta dish, I'm sorry but you wont be tucking into anything like that here. Franco Manca is exclusively pizzas only. Which is fine by me, but worth mentioning if you are someone who prefers a different type of carbohydrate!

Now I wouldn't blame you if you were wondering if a meal out at Franco Manca Reading would cost you the earth. I mean, you've got the authentic Neopolitan pizzas, fresh ingredients, dough prepped in-house, the fast & friendly service, of course you'd be thinking it might cost you more than your average trip to Pizza Express. However you'd be wrong The pizzas range from £5 to £9 (additional toppings come with an additional charge) for a pizza that is packed full of flavour, non greasy and doesn't leave you feeling bloated. Whilst we weren't able to stick around to catch a taster of all the desserts they have to offer, including lemon cake & tiramusu. We were able to take home a slice of their chocolate hazelnut cake, which I can confirm is delicious paired with some vanilla ice-cream. That's one good thing about the sourdough bases, they don't leave you feeling too full so you will have room for a naughty treat.

Will I be visiting Franco Manca again? Of course I will. From start to finish I was impressed, I've sung it's praises to anyone that cares to listen, and plan to head along to the Reading branch again with a selection of friends soon. As someone who is known within my friendship group as the pizza obsessive, I am looked upon as something of a pizza expert, so when I recommend somewhere they know it's going to be good! 




*I was invited to Franco Manca,  for a complimentary tasting however all views are my own and not influenced by this in any way.*