Thank Franco it’s Friday!

New Sourdough Pizzeria in Hove
On a warm autumn Friday evening in Hove, we received an even warmer welcome to the recently opened Franco Manca Pizzeria in Hove. Occupying a prominent corner plot on Church Street with floor-to-ceiling windows, the spacious restaurant is simply decorated with attractive exposed stone walls, stylish wood panelling, stone floors and fun “pizza-inspired” artwork. The open kitchen has a huge mosaic tiled dome oven and the chefs happily twirl the dough which is freshly made on the premises.

The restaurant’s origins date back to 1986 when Francos opened as a pizzeria in Brixton Market. In 2008 owner Franco asked his friend Giuseppe Mascoli if he wanted to take it over. Giuseppe and his friend Bridget Hugo, an artisan baker, took it on and called it Franco Manca, (Italian for “Franco is missing”) as a tribute to Franco.

Giuseppe, originally from beautiful Positano, was strongly influenced by Neapolitan cuisine and together with his partner Bridget they created a simple menu focusing on daily freshly made slow-rising sourdough, and Neapolitan-inspired cuisine with quality ingredients.

Today the Franco Manca group has grown considerably around London and also the in the South East where restaurants are open in Brighton, Guildford, Southampton and now Hove. Although now a sizeable operation, Franco Manca have stayed true to their roots of buying from small local suppliers. Their slow-rising sourdough is made with a mother dough which dates back to the late 18th century!

For starters the kids happily dug in to Mozzarella-topped garlic bread while I thoroughly enjoyed an indulgently rich and creamy Burrata served with salami, rocket and slivers of sun dried tomatoes (left). Jeff went for aubergine parmigiana, an oven-baked dish of sweet tomatos, soft smoky aubergine, and parmesan – “amazingly sweet and delicious” was his verdict.

The main menu is simply pizza (all fully customisable) with a couple of salad choices, there are also daily specials. The pizzas are made from the most soft, light and thin dough with puffy crusts perfect for dipping in a range of sauces. I’d recommend the garlic mayo and advise caution with the Scotch bonnet chilli dip!

There are meat, fish and veg pizza choices and removing/adding toppings was absolutely fine. To experience one of the pizzas exactly as designed by the Franco Manca team I went for the lightly smoked beechwood spicy salami, organic tomato, mozzarella, caramelised red onions, Franco’s homemade chilli oil & fresh basil which was £10.95. Prices were genuinely reasonable, the standard tomato and mozzarella pizza (adult size) is just £8.35.

The restaurant was buzzing with chat from lively diners and had a fun atmosphere, there were several children in family groups (kids menus, colouring sheets and crayons are provided) as well as couples and groups of friends. Service was friendly and efficient throughout the evening.

The children somehow found room for dessert with my youngest going for lemon, rosemary and almond cake with yoghurt & organic honey (£5.15) and the eldest a double scoop of chocolate ice cream (£4.50). I enjoyed Affogato – vanilla ice cream with an espresso shot (£4.25) and Jeff had lemon sorbet (£3.25).

128 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2EA www.francomanca.co.uk

 

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