A pizza the action of the buzzing new Marina food scene – Franco Manca
I was once told on one of my many trips to Italy that in the villages a Pizzaiolo (Pizza chef/dough maker) is highly respected if he is a master of his art! In fact villagers are more loyal to the pizzaiolo than the restaurant he works in, and will follow him/her to different restaurants if they decide to move on.
The founder of Franco Manca Pizza, Giuseppe Mascoli took years perfecting his art, and every member of staff, regardless of whether they are a chef, a manager or a waiter, has to learn Mr Mascoli’s perfected recipe and method to make what can only be described as hands down the most delicious Pizza Dough I have ever tasted! In fact hands down the best Pizza, and a wonderful dining experience to boot!
We visited Franco Manca in Brighton Marina, a superb location for a restaurant with panoramic views of the beautiful harbour. We immediately felt as though we were in a real Italian Pizza restaurant! It had an air of casualness and simplicity with elegant décor, and felt modern and airy, and was dominated by a humungous wood burning oven to the rear of the room, with the chefs in full view of the restaurant busily going about their art!
We were warmly greeted by Serafino, the manager of the branch who took great pleasure in talking to us about the menu, and describing how the pizzas are made – his passion for the art of pizza making was obvious and his enthusiasm, infectious. He described how from start to finish the hand-made pizza dough takes a whole month to be ready to use as the yeast takes this long to mature, and in this time the dough is kneaded and shaped daily to give it a unique flavour and texture. As well as this only fresh organic toppings are used, arriving daily, with the mozzarella traditionally made with hand presses on site!
The menu itself consisted of a few traditional Italian starters and a set of seven deliciously described speciality pizzas (with the seventh recently added), and a specials board, which is updated with speciality pizzas daily, and according to Serafino, if you came to the restaurant every day for two months you would not see the same pizzas here!
I decided on the newest addition to the menu, spicy lamb sausage, Mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta, yellow piennolo tomato and fresh basil, and my dining companion went for the “meat special” from the specials board, consisting of cured ham, with burrata (a more delicate and creamier mozzarella) and ricotta. To drink we selected a vino rosso from the drinks menu that contains nothing but organically produced own label beverages!
A minute later our Pizza arrived!!! The Pizza itself only takes 4o seconds to cook in the 500 degree oven! This intense cooking locks in the flavour of the delicious sour dough, and gives it a soft yet ever so slightly crisp, charred crust, sensational! The toppings were beyond delightful! The freshness of each ingredient really stood out! The Yellow Piennelo tomatoes were ripe and sweet, the Ricotta and Mozzarella so creamy and light (the special had a big burrata in the middle which was a real treat).
For desert we were encouraged to try the homemade Tiramisu, which is made daily on site with fresh cream rather than mascarpone. If you still have room left in your belly this cannot be missed! The fresh cream made the Tirimisu scrumptiously light and fluffy, a perfect desert to finish off with a pure roasted Arabica coffee.
Verdict: Franco Manca’s at Brighton Marina is the best Pizzaria in Brighton by far! Along with the best Pizzas I have ever tasted, the friendly atmosphere and harbour setting makes this a must visit. We will be heading back soon to try out their Pizza making masterclass held each month on the second Tuesday of the month (watch this space).