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Franco Manca - All rise
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Franco Manca
The Mint Building,
19 to 23 South St Andrew Street,
Monday to Saturday: 10:30am to 11pm Sunday: 11:30am to 10pm

 Sourdough may not be a new concept. *

However, sourdough pizza bases? Now that’s a trend on the rise.

In steps Franco Manca, right on cue. The restaurant initially opened eponymously as Francos in 1986. After 22 years, Giuseppe Mascoli and artisan baker Bridget Hugo took over the small Brixton Market pizzeria, renaming it Franco Manca – translated, humorously, from the Italian as "Franco is missing".

The duo introduced slow-rising sourdough bases to the menu, the first pizzeria proprietors to do so in the UK. The unique bases, Mascoli’s Neapolitan influence and their use of seasonal, quality ingredients soon drew savvy Londoners to Brixton.

That was 2008.

Fast-forward to 2019, to the Mint Building on St Andrew's Square, where the new Franco Manca branch has just opened. While the brand has been expanding, there's a good reason for it. Each restaurant is true to Franco Manca's roots: the neighbourhood concept, local ingredients from small suppliers, handmade sourdough bases and Neapolitan-inspired cuisine.

Step through the glass doors at this latest pizzeria, and even early-ish on a random Thursday evening the place is packed.

The menu doubles as the placemat, good Italian red is served ever so casually in tumblers. (It's worth noting that all their wines are biodynamic and/or organic.) There are only seven pizzas on the menu, listed according to number. Both my friend and I inadvertently ordered number four (ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and wild mushrooms), which is a fan favourite. Our pizza arrives pronto – uncut in true Italian style, the sourdough base uneven. It's delicious. You would not believe how quickly I ate it — the entire thing.

I was impressed by the prices; pizzas start at £5 (number one on the menu, the equivalent of a Margherita) to £9 for number seven (salami, green peppers, mozzarella, wild mizuna, rocket).

Give it time, and perhaps there may be queues here too, following the lead of Londoners waiting their turn at Brixton Market.(K. Wilkins)

* Franco Manca's slow-rising sourdough originated in the late 18th century, the recipe for which was adopted by founder Giuseppe Mascoli for use in the pizzeria.

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