Franco Manca, Clare Street: Review

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Please note: our food and drinks at Franco Manca Bristol were received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


It was November 2017 when the Bristol branch of sourdough pizza pioneer Franco Manca opened – it’s a little hard to believe that it was that long ago. Standing proudly on the corner of Clare Street, it’s a warm, welcoming place with an industrial-meets-rustic canteen feel – and an open-plan kitchen where you’ll see pizza after pizza being turned out for both takeaway and eat-in orders.


Franco Manca Bristol - Interior

Franco Manca Bristol - Kitchen


Those pizzas are made using slow-rising sourdough, with toppings carefully sourced for their quality – and there are both vegan specials and gluten-free options available in all Franco Manca restaurants. It’s an easy menu to choose from, too, with just seven pizza choices on the main menu, and a few more written up on the specials board.

Going as heavy as we could on the carbs, we started our meal with a garlic bread with mozzarella (£4.95). When it arrived, we were surprised to see the mozzarella melted onto a layer of tomato sauce…we were told this was the traditional Neapolitan way, but it’s not something I’ve ever come across.

If you like a chewy sourdough pizza base, then this one’s for you: dense, substantial crusts that are great for dipping, but pretty thin in the middle. There was TONS of mozzarella, which was good to see – but it could have done with more garlic – the flavour of the oregano was dominant.

Talking of crusts being great for dipping, we ordered a couple of pots of dip, priced at £1.25 each. They were generous for the price: a watercress pesto with a slight bitterness, the crunch of pine nuts and a fresh, garlicky tang; and a thick and creamy Stilton dip that had just enough of the blue cheese without being overpowering.


Franco Manca Bristol - Garlic Bread


The Franco Manca kids’ menu is well-priced at £5 for a pizza, drink and dessert – and the portions are generous, too. The toddler’s glass of apple juice was rapidly glugged down (he’s not used to the luxury of undiluted fruit juice), and the look on his face when he saw the size of the ham and tomato pizza that was set down in front of him was priceless. It wasn’t just the size of the pizza that was generous, but the amount of ham scattered over the top, too – he wolfed down almost half his meal, and we had the rest boxed up to take home.


Franco Manca Bristol - Kids Pizza

My choice was Pizza 5 (£8), topped with tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, Kalamata black olives, Cantabrian anchovies and British mozzarella, again on that beautifully chewy base but with a very thin centre that made it a knife and fork job. The toppings may look sparse in the photo, but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity, and with the punchiness of the olives, capers and anchovies, every mouthful was packed full of flavour. There was an incredible amount of cheese on there – the only thing that I think it could have done with more of was the capers.


Franco Manca Bristol - Pizza 5

On the other side of the table, it was Pizza 3 (£7.95) that was ordered: a light tomato base topped with dry San Marzano tomatoes, roasted potatoes and onions, British mozzarella, Colston Bassett Stilton and seasonal pesto – with spicy lamb sausage added for an extra £1.75. That sausage was packed with flavour, although pretty fatty and greasy, and the rest of the toppings were plentiful. The only real disappointment was the potatoes, which were bland and unseasoned – he’d have been quite happy if they’d been left off.


Franco Manca Bristol - Pizza 3

After dough-based starters and mains, we were too stuffed for dessert…but we weren’t about to deny the toddler. He thoroughly enjoyed his scoop of chocolate ice cream: decent quality stuff with a rich, bittersweet flavour and studded generously with chocolate chips.


Franco Manca Bristol - Kids Ice Cream


All in all, we were pretty impressed: the pizzas were delicious, made with quality ingredients and incredibly competitively priced. The atmosphere was relaxed and child-friendly without turning it into an irritatingly “family-friendly” place, and the members of staff who served us seemed genuinely happy to be working there. If you’re after a quick city centre bite to eat and pizza is your craving, I’d definitely recommend Franco Manca.


2 Responses to Franco Manca, Clare Street: Review

  1. My favourite pizza house. We often go to the Wimbledon branch. Here, too, the staff are attentive and cheerful.

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