Franco Manca - Bath

 

Tick, tock, it's pizza o'clock. Franco Manca, we are on our way!

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The highly successful British restaurant chain, Franco Manca, was founded in 2008 by Giuseppe Mascoli and his artisan-baker friend, Bridget Hugo, in a small unit in Brixton Market, south London. However, in 1986, Francos (as it was originally named) was run by a guy called Franco. After 22 years of waving the flag for Francos in Brixton Market, Franco decided he wanted to retire from his restaurant, and so asked his friend Giuseppe if he would like to step in his shoes and take over his business. Giuseppe accepted the offer, but wanted to rebrand the restaurant name so as to pay homage to Franco's hard work (Franco Manca is the Italian translation for "Franco is missing") - thus, Franco Manca was born.

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Since 2008, the business has grown substantially - you will find a vast number of Franco Manca pizzeria's dotted across London, as well as a handful situated outside of the capital too. In addition, Giuseppe and Bridget also have a non-UK pizzeria located on the Aeolian Island of Salina, north of Sicily.

One of their latest launches brought them to Bath earlier this year - to Brunel Square, just next door to Bath Spa train station.

(You can find your local here!)

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Franco Manca Bath do not take bookings, they operate on a first come, first served basis. However, parties of seven or more do have the option to reserve a table inside the restaurant. On the day we arrived, last Saturday lunchtime, the outside seating area was pretty jam-packed due to the glorious weather. But luckily, we managed to grab one of the last tables in the sunshine. 

We couldn't wait to devour a "pizza-the-action". And... after a fantastic carb-fuelled feast, it's safe to say, I think you'll be wanting to frequent Franco Manca just as much as us!

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We enjoyed two great starters; 'Garlic bread' (£4.05) and 'Baked Aubergine Parmigiana' (£4.15). Both very reasonably priced - I would only comment that the garlic bread packed a very strong punch and would perhaps not be ideal for any readers on a first date! 

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As much as we polished off every last crumb of the garlic bread, it could have done with a dash more olive oil, and the garlic would have been enjoyed much more if it had been finely diced.

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The starters were generously sized, so if you are tempted to order some, I'd suggest sharing one or two between you, as you need to make sure you leave room for the mains. You'll have the choice of pizza, salad, or PIZZA! ;)

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Since its launch, Franco Manca has been championing slow-rising sourdough pizzas, and sourcing their ingredients on a seasonal basis, from small suppliers across the UK. In addition, their mozzarella is made in Somerset - it doesn't get much more local than that for us Bathonian's!

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So, what did we have?

Scott opted for 'Gloucester Old Spot ham {Home cured}, Buffalo Mozzarella, Ricotta and Wild Mushrooms' (£7.50)

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Meanwhile, I tried one from the Vegetarian specials menu - 'Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomatoes, Baked Aubergines and Wild Garlic Pesto' (£8.30) As you can see, the pizzas are served up to the size of dinner plates here, so it might be worth arriving on an empty stomach!

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Although we opted for the slightly pricier pizzas, simply because we were keen to try those toppings, you can grab yourself a fantastic deal at Franco Manca. Their pizzas start from £5.00, and yes, I really did just say that, £5.00! Given how large the portion sizes are too, it really is great value for money. Not to mention just how fresh, flavourful and vibrant the toppings are.

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I am definitely a sucker for sourdough, and, although I didn't quite manage an entire pizza to myself, I didn't leave feeling bloated which is often the case, especially after consuming such a carb-heavy meal. Moreover, the crusts (which I tend to neglect) could be served with a choice of dips - Chilli, Seasonal Pesto or Stilton (at a cost of £1.25 each), which I thought was a great idea.

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The atmosphere was buzzing as we dined al fresco, and I must mention how attentive the staff were, even with such a busy service. In addition, we noticed that the majority of the diners appeared to be younger than us - I can imagine this must be a great venue for students (it certainly would have been my go-to with friends if I had gone to college or university in Bath). It wouldn't surprise me if word has gone around the university campus that Franco Manca is the place to find great value, delicious pizzas! If you are reading this as a student in Bath and haven't yet visited with your friends, I'd definitely recommend it. And, of course, for any non-students, I can say with confidence, from our recent experience there, that you should pop a date in the diary and go discover the delicious delights of Franco Manca's Neapolitan-inspired cuisine.

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Find them under Arch 46, 12 Brunel Square, Bath. For more info, please take a look at their website.

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