When I think of Franca Manca, I think of getting up far too early on a Saturday morning so I can avoid the queue. I think of stinky fish markets and of cramped benches. Most of all, I think of Brixton.
All that has changed. I never thought it would happen, but Franco Manca have taken their outdoor(ish) venture and moved into a proper restaurant. It has heating and it's own roof too! Located on Chiswick High street, it is bright, airy and colourful with another of those Neapolitan wood burning ovens taking center stage. The only hint of fish came from the anchovies littered on their "number 4" pizza.
The first thing that struck me was that it was surprisingly empty. I am accustomed to queuing and looking on enviously for my turn, but the rather large space had few customers. It is very early days so I anticipate the queues will soon form but I for one was pleased to be able to sit down straight away.
So how was it? Well, I found things slightly "off". From the minute the orange lemonade turned up without the tart hit I am used to, to when I found what looked suspiciously like the top of a pine cone in my pizza, I felt rather underwhelmed. You cannot doubt the quality of the pizza, although the salt content was through the roof. And when the waitress took the offending item away to check that it wouldn't "poison me" (she came back claiming it was the top of an aubergine, it clearly wasn't), my heart just sank.
Franco Manca Chiswick is still home to an excellent pizza but it has a long way to go if it wants to be an excellent dining experience. I would immediately address the saltiness (I am sure it has never been this salty in Brixton), I would add some desserts to the menu and I would let the punters have milk in their coffee.
Franco Manca (website) - 144 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1PU