They’re the pioneers of Neapolitan sourdough pizza and now Franco Manca has arrived in Leeds.
Franco Manca is one of the most popular pizzerias in London and now they’ve opened their first Northern venue in Trinity Leeds. It’s been over 10 years in the making – Giuseppe Mascoli and Bridget Hugo opened their first pizzeria in Brixton Market in 2008. The aim then was the same as it is now, to create a simple menu using quality ingredients that were true to the ethos of Neapolitan cuisine – and their new Leeds home is the perfect place to experience it.
You will step into a bright and airy restaurant, split across two floors for dining and a basement bar area where you can relax over a few drinks. The walls are covered in big, striking mirrors split up by murals by artist Enzo Apicella, who also created the illustrations you see on the menus. When the weather’s good, you can even sit outside with space for 30 people in front of the restaurant.
They were the first pizzeria in the UK to offer sourdough pizza, so you can trust that their pizzaioli know exactly what they’re doing. The menu is small, straightforward and decent value, with prices starting from £5. There are seven individually numbered pies, alongside a pair of meat and vegan specials that change daily. Each one is made fresh to order using ingredients sourced from small suppliers in the UK and Italy.
If you want to keep it simple, go for number 1, a simple combo of tomato, garlic, basil and oregano, or number 2, which just adds mozzarella into the mix. The other creations are more exotic, like number 4, which promises a mix of roasted home-cured ham, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta and wild mushrooms. Want to go veggie? The tomato-less number 3 brings together roasted courgettes, ricotta, mozzarella and yellow Vesuvius tomatoes.
You can get any of their pizzas with a gluten-free base or vegan cheese, but you don’t actually have to have pizza. They have small bites to share, like the aubergine parmigiana, British bresaola with wild mizuna and baked spicy lamb sausage with potatoes and mozzarella. You can also choose from a trio of salads, like the lightly-spiced chicken with crispy bacon, caramelised onions, alfalfa sprouts, grana cheese, mixed leaves and house dressing. There’s dessert to follow and it has to be tiramisù, right?
To go with your meal, they have a small, curated wine list – they only serve natural Italian wines and they’re always organic or biodynamic. If you like red, try the warm and spicy Montepulciano from Francesco Cirelli in Abruzzo. Prefer white? The Cortese from Carlindepaolo is dry yet balanced. You can also choose from a trio of classic Italian cocktails, the Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Negroni Sbagliato, or try one of their own label beers.
If you love pizza, Franco Manca’s Neapolitan sourdough creations are an absolute must-try, so why not check it out?
Franco Manca, 1 Trinity Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AP.