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Franco Manca Pizzeria | Richmond | London

Franco Manca Pizzeria, Richmond, London
What do you do with a former Police Station? You turn it into a Pizzeria of course - the particular type of restaurant where you can mainly consume pizzas, but in which it is often also possible to find other types of dishes. That includes using the freshest ingredients (even training their UK cheese supplier how to make the pizza mozzarella) with organic and bio-dynamic wine if you are Franco Manca. I discovered bio-dynamic or Bio wine is different from organic wine in that it takes the process further by using phases of the moon and other astronomical influences. Go figure.

Franco Manca Restaurant, Richmond
They've done a great job of transforming Richmond's old Police station, next to the Odeon theatre on Red Lion Street although there's no sign of any cells down below. The restaurant itself is spacious and has a modern open feel to it. It was busy when we got there at 6pm mid week, but we were welcomed into a separate area for which we could try different foods and learn about making the sourdough.

Spicy Lamb Sausage starter with Scotch Bonnet
For me with pizza, the real test in is the dough: where is the origin of the starter or yeast and how long it is proofed for (left to rise). Franco Manca proof their dough anywhere from 18 to 22 hours and they use a 200 year old starter yeast from Italy, (unfortunately I was unable to get my hands on some), usually a starter is not supposed to leave the town/area from which it came from but hey, we're here now and I'm not complaining because their sourdough tastes amazing.

Sourdough Pizzas, Franco Manca, Richmond
When I was learning about Franco Manca recently, it seemed to me they had this very active cult-like following, for me though I couldn't understand it - its just pizza right? However, the effort they go through to use the freshest of ingredients, making their own sauces, oils etc it actually made a difference to the food they were serving. It seemed that every topping was quality (the tomatoes, the hams, the chorizo, the cheese) cooked and made delicious. One of the nicest and creamiest burrata's I have tried to date and they serve a wickedly spicy lamb sausage starter which is 100% lamb (leg) including the casing. So I get it now, I too am hooked, from the starters, to the pizza and finally the sweets, its all quality.

Hazelnut Chocolate, Tiramisu, Lemon & Rosemary sweets, Franco Manca
The wine, considering it is Bio, was actually quite good. If you're never tried authentic or 'real' wine as Francesco (Franco's wine sommelier) calls it, you might find it interesting and I admit I'm used to these wines from travelling in Croatia and Burgundy but it is a different vibe, so alternatively there is lovely wine like the Sicilian Catarratto for you who like something more rounded.

The pizza itself takes only 50 seconds to cook and like I said the cheese is delicious, I love to have a white pizza and was lucky enough to have a spin with the pizza oven and make my very own Good Kai skinny special pizza, in other words I didn't put enough toppings on my pizza but there you go. Thankfully the pros at Franco make much better pizzas than I so be sure to secure a booking here because they are always busy. On bank holiday weekend they did 700 covers, for a business in Richmond that has only been operating for 10 days - that is phenomenal. Everybody is coming here, its well worth it and I'll be back to get my fix.

Alfie from Franco Manca demonstrating pizza dough


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