Even though it sounds like the best thing ever, we simply couldn’t eat baos all the time during me and my wife’s trip to London. After starting off at Bao London and eating dinner at Bone Daddies (which deserves a post of its own if it weren’t for the fact that I only blog about hand food) it was safe to say that our first day in the English capital was a success.
If you want to eat great-tasting pizzas in Europe, my experience is that you kind of have to sit down in proper restaurants most of the times. The few joints with a quick over-the-counter system where you just take a slice with you on the streets are usually disappointing.
In Berlin you have Standard, which I wrote about earlier. In Madrid, the Argentine-pizzeria Picsa is worth going to. Of course the list goes longer. What’s common about these places is that they are joints where you sit down in a friendly atmosphere and wait patiently for your pizzas and make an evening out of it.
But back to Franco Manca…
The point of me saying this is that Franco Manca in Soho is that type of place. It’s a super-warm, authentic piece of Italy that’s gonna charm your butt off in no time. The place pulls out some tables and chairs during the summer, but the basement is where the magic happens.
You can already start to feel the electricity walking down the stairs. The place was packed when we got there, and the floor staff where running the place – kinda literally to be honest. It was that typical southern European organized confusion-style of managing that always reminds me of eateries back in my home country of Argentina. Well, maybe more than just eateries – the whole country is ran that way.
We stood there for a good minute just taking the whole atmosphere in.
The next hour were spent drinking great IPA’s that I can’t remember the name of and, yeah: PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA! For some reason I’ve been obsessing with anchovy pizzas, so I got that while my wife ordered the chorizo pizza. We got to have a couple of sips of our beers before the food were in front of us. I guess the organized confusion was pretty organized after all. Props!
One thing though: Can’t finish this blog post without mentioning the floor staff. Watching them interact with each other in their Italian mannerisms is the heart and soul of Franco Manca. It’s like a scene from Fellini’s Amarcord. Straight up personalities!
On the way out I met an Italian guy who tripped over his suitcase trying to let me pass through the door. We exchanged words for 20 seconds and managed to squeeze in cigarettes, pizzas and football during that time. Pretty effective conversation, to say the least. He asked the whole block for a lighter and went on wandering about when nobody could spare one.
I really hope he found one.
All images © Franco Manca & Alessandra Spairani. Used with permission