Leeds isn’t exactly deficient in the pizzeria department, but given how busy Franco Manca was when we headed down to the nearly opened restaurant in Trinity shopping centre, this latest entrant to the scene looks like it’s already made quite the impression.
Located in what used to be Pintura, we were given the option of an inside or outside table. Given that there was a brief respite from the downpours we’ve been seeing recently (the sun-drenched summer of 2018 has fast become a dim and distant memory!) we opted for the latter and set about perusing the menu before making our choices.
Feeling particularly peckish, we opted for the Platter of cured meat (£7.95), which comprised a fine selection of tasty charcuterie; and the Pizza bread with rosemary & sea salt (£3.45) to share. Accompanied with Parmesan shavings and plenty of rocket, it was a first class opening gambit and a good indicator of the quality that was to come our way.
Given the generous nature of our starters, when the main event arrived in the form of our pizzas, we quickly realised we may have shot the bolt slightly given that there were again no half measures from a portion point of view.
First up was the Roasted cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta and wild mushrooms [little tomato] (£7.95). Again the individual elements married together to great effect; while the pizza, being in the Neopolitan style with only a small amount of tomato being used, was beautifully done. Franco Manca is proud of its slow-rising sourdough recipe, which dates back to the late 18th century, and on this showing it has every right to be.
Our other choice was Alonso’s No.7 (£9.00), which ticked every box with spicy lamb sausage, tomatoes from Gragnano, roasted aubergine, mozzarella & wild garlic pesto proving plenty of bang for your buck. Again the various (and plentiful!) ingredients came together to create an end result that was deeply satisfying.
Having almost overdosed ourselves on sourdoughy goodness, we could only manage a single scoop of delicious Lemon sorbet to finish off a fulsome evening, which had been ably accompanied throughout by a bottle of hearty Dolcetto – Carlindepaolo (£17.50) that really helped to bring out the rich meatiness of our pizzas.
It’s fair to say that Franco Manca has brought Neapolitan pizza to the city of Leeds with a huge helping of Italian style and at a more than reasonable price. Having also pledged to help local communities by donating one pizza for every pizza enjoyed by its customers to local homeless shelters and food banks until the 5th of August (read more about that here), we’re pleased to report that this generosity is mirrored in the size of the portions, but without any drop in quality.