The restaurant Franco Manca chain was founded in 2008 by Giuseppe Mascoli, with one restaurant in Brixton Market. The pizzaiolo was called Franco, and when he was off duty, customers kept asking after him. “Franco manca” was the usual reply, meaning “Franco is not here”, and this phrase became the name of the establishment.
The pizzas at Franco Manca are made from sourdough, flash-baked in special tufae wood-burning ovens, which reach the dizzyingly high temperature of 500ºC. The result is a pie with a soft texture and an easily digestible crust, definitely the best pizza in London.
The prices are amazingly low, and the menu is short. Purists order the original tomato, garlic and oregano version, or the tomato, mozzarella and basil, and the six basic varieties are supplemented by daily specials. Of course you can order extra toppings.
Over the years, the chain grew to ten venues, from Soho to Southfields, and from Covent Garden to Stratford. More additions are in the pipeline. In March 2015 the brand was bought out by Fulham Shore, an investment vehicle owned by restaurateur David Page, who has been associated with Pizza Express for 30 years.