Pizza the action

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Franco Manca is serving up some utterly delectable pizzas – just make sure you hold onto the crusts, writes Sammy Milton

Franco Manca has been a highly popular pizza chain in London for quite some time now, so it only seemed right that they would open a place in Bristol. Located on a corner at the bottom of Corn Street, the restaurant emitted a welcoming glow when we approached it last week. We were welcomed into the busy, warm space and seated at a window seat perfect for people-watching. The staff are simply wonderful – manager Iain in particular was extremely attentive, and our friendly waiter was more than happy to explain the menu and specials to us.

He recommended we went with a couple of things to start, so we opted for the sharing platter of a selection of cured meats and another board of smoked buffalo mozzarella and bresaola from the specials board. The meat platter was fantastic – piled high with all sorts of tempting morsels, the meats were delicate and delicious, each with its own depth and flavour. Crisp breads, rocket and cheese were all welcome accompaniments and it would serve as a perfect pre-drinks meal with friends.

The bresaola and smoked mozzarella was a wonderfully different starter. The smoked cheese worked perfectly with the sweet cured meat and was a very plentiful portion for the price – definitely something I’d order again.

The pizzas here are cooked with immense pride. The open kitchen is situated to the rear of the restaurant where you can see the chefs hard at work, placing pizza after pizza into a huge clay oven. Eager to try them out, my partner chose a number 5 off the main menu – tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozzarella. This was a masterpiece – covered in properly plump anchovies (it’s good to see they don’t scrimp on the toppings here), the olives and capers added a salty kick and their tomato sauce is deep, rich and aromatic.

I went with the meat special from the specials board – mozzarella, tomatoes, cured prosciutto, a burratina Pugliese (which I’ll come to) and sweet green chillis with no tomato sauce. It arrived blisteringly hot, a real work of art. A burratina Pugliese, it transpires, it an uncooked ball of mozzarella packed full of cream – you pop it like a runny egg and the rich, creamy contents spill out onto the pizza like a sauce. Well, wow. I’ve certainly never had anything like this on a pizza, and it worked beautifully. Alongside the sweet green chillis and the delicious prosciutto, it made for a hugely enjoyable dish.

You’re encouraged to keep your crusts here, with the idea being you can dip them into any of the three sauces on the menu. We tried all three – chilli, seasonal pesto and stilton, with the chilli coming up trumps. Rich and garlicy, it had a good amount of spice to it, and we very much enjoyed dipping the blistered crusts into all three.

To finish off, we had a piece of the chocolate and hazelnut cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream to share. Whilst the ice cream was smooth, creamy and clearly homemade, the cake was not. But, it was still nutty and sweet and definitely a good way to finish off the meal. The pizzas are so good here that it doesn’t matter.

The restaurant was fully packed on a Tuesday night, so Franco Manca are clearly doing very well indeed – and it’s not hard to see why. Pizzas of this quality don’t come along very often, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Franco Manca

20 Clare Street,

Bristol BS1 1YG

0117 990 2110

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