Franco Manca, Islington

It came out of nowhere. The sudden message on whatsapp that would forever change my Friday evening.

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Yes that’s right, Franco Manca gave away 300 free pizzas on their opening weekend in Islington and I was one of the lucky people to get one! With my dear friend Anna due to arrive later, I turned up an hour early for the 6pm giveaway to an almost empty restaurant. I waited in Islington green for half an hour until Anna turned up then we headed in sheepishly saying ‘We’re here for the free pizza… we know we’re early’ the waitress was very friendly and suggested we just grab some drinks while we’re waiting. We ordered a bottle of wine and watched as others arrived to enjoy the free pizza offer. We also decided to make the most of our wait and ordered a mozzarella starter, which was good, but not amazing, the first taste of sourdough was really satisfying but the cheese needed something to cut through the delicate taste. Anna thought that the mozzarella was a bit like biting into an egg, but that there wasn’t enough tomato. Still it was fresh and creamy with nice peppery rocket. Tomatoes are cheap I don’t understand why we are rarely given an abundance of them!

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While we were finishing off our starter we ordered our pizzas, I went for the classic marg, while Anna opted for the veg special (Tomato Sauce, Goats Cheese, Red and Yellow Bell Pepper, Caramelised Red Onion and Pesto). We didn’t have to wait long before our pizzas arrived. Anna’s initial thought was that mine looked better than hers, but that might just be because a nice simple pie is all you want sometimes. When first biting into my pizza I got a strong sense of cheese on toast, in a good way, like the best ever cheese on toast. It was really good, with soft fluffy crusts and a nice tomato sauce – not exceptional, great cheese coverage and the nice hint of basil here and there. It arrived at a good eating temperature as well, which is always a bonus! I’m not sure if it was because they’d just opened but the first splash of garlic oil was really garlicky and the second wasn’t? So weird! But the chilli oil was a good level of heat, with a slight bitterness to it.

Anna’s pizza had a good combo of veggies and she wanted to eat the whole thing which is quite unheard of for her! The downsides were that there was a lack of tomato sauce in the middle of the pizza and it did suffer the dreaded wet bottom, but in my opinion the crusts made up for this as they were so fluffy and squidgy!

I have to remind myself that it did taste better cause it was free, and free food is always better. Overall I think Franco Manca deserve a solid 8.5/10, it’s good pizza, cheap, and easy to get!

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