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Franco Manca, Belsize Park


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I only wrote about Franco Manca a few months ago, but I felt moved to write again in view of their newest opening in Belsize Park which I duly trotted along to despite the vast acres of crust experienced at Tottenham Court Road.

The Belsize Park Franco Manca took over the Chimichanga site on Haverstock Hill and is an entirely different vibe to its W1 neighbour; it's bigger, with a nice conservatory at the back and a popular sun terrace out the front. As you'd expect, it's buggy central but they're really accommodating and there's enough room for everyone. We went on opening weekend and there was a fairly sizeable queue, yet we were still seated with buggy within 15 mins (just be prepared to share a table and you'll be fine) and they fed us foccacia while we waited in the sun. It's all far more civilised than the bustling rowdiness of the Brixton Market original (which I loved anyway) but some people were still getting a bit aggro at the thought of a short wait.

Happily seated in a tucked away enclave, we ordered a glass of something each (organic white wine for me, a No Logo beer for Rich) and got on with the serious business of deciding which pizza to gorge on. We were supposed to be being kind to both our waistlines and bank balance, but as per Rich led me astray and insisted on doubling the calorie count by us both ordering a starter. There was smoked mozzarella, which I can rarely resist, and he can't be parted from a burrata, so that was that.

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As you can see, one would have been gluttonous alone. Of course, we ate the lot, remarking throughout on their excellence. The Franco Manca burrata really is very good; it's one of the best burratas I've had in terms of the creaminess and the amount you get for the £9 or thereabouts pricetag is amazing.

Somehow, we moved onto pizzas and I went for the day's meat special, which was a fennel salami and cime di rapa little number:

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As you can see, the air pockets in the crust were testament to the pizzaiola's skill and made for a very satisfying, light sourdough hit with just the right amount of doughiness. The toppings were exceptional as ever, and I was pleased that there was a more appropriate toppings: base ratio on this visit.

Rich, of course, had the same pizza as ever - so you can read about that in my previous post if you like. Again, the ratio had been corrected and we were far more impressed this time.

So was Leo, who ate 80% of my crust to save me from myself...

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The bill was just shy of £60 and reminded us that we really did not need the starters, and definitely not two of them. We'll be back soon to take advantage of that pretty little sun terrace and try to be more reserved!

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