Franco Manca opens in Richmond and it’s a real pizza work!
8 Red Lion Street (the old police station)
London TW9 1RW
What To Expect
Anyone in Richmond will know that until recently 8 Red Lion St used to be home to Richmond Police Station. Having undergone an extensive refurbishment, the walls have been knocked down and the front of the building opened up with huge glass frontage. Now it’s the latest offering from well-known sourdough pizza specialists Franco Manca. But this isn’t you’re typical ristorante, you’d would be well-informed to remember this is a pizza restaurant as opposed to an Italian restaurant. Whilst you can find salads on the menu you won’t find any pasta here. We popped down a week after the soft-opening to see what all the fuss was about.
What We Ate
There are a small selection of starters including daily blackboard specials. We chose the Burrata, Langhirano 30 mth Cured Prosciutto & Roasted Almonds Board.The burrata (mozzarella filled with cream) was very smooth and rich and the prosciutto was buttery with a nice layer of melting fat. A good size we shared this between two so we could have plenty of room for our pizzas.
Franco Manca is famed for its sourdough pizzas which are cooked in a specially designed wood fired oven at a whopping 500degs. It’s fair to say the pizza definitely lived up to the hype. The sourdough base and near volcanic-induced heat from the oven gives a nice light, charcoal bubble which provides both crunch and a bit of chew whilst the speciality flour used gives a more savoury than sweet taste. There are also different ways to have your pizza, with or without tomato sauce (yes, really), speciality, make your own or off the menu. There is a great range for vegetarians too in fact I seem to remember a larger portion of the menu was vegetarian rather than meat-based although you can pimp any pizza with a large selection of add-ons.
Gloucester Old Spot Home-Cured Ham, Mozzarella & Buffalo Ricotta, topped with the in-house chilli oil that is on each table, it was very good. (The chilli oil was ah-mazing in fact I took some home!)
The other one chose to design his own and declared it ‘delizioso’ in his best faux Italian accent.
There is also a small selection of desserts. I chose the tiramisu, I normally wouldn’t but it was recommended. I’m glad I did, it was the best I have had in a while with very distinct flavours allowing you to clearly taste each layer without it all being mushed together.
We tried 3 of the in-house wines which to be honest were ok but not great. We reverted back to the bottled beers which suited our night and were really good and of course no ristorante experience would be complete without a glass (or 2) of Limoncello.
All In All
If you haven’t been to a Franco Manca yet then I reckon you’re missing out. These are regularly voted the best pizzas in the UK (Time Out, The Observer, Tatler…..) and I couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to say the old police station has firmly hung up it’s handcuffs and no one is going to be getting arrested around here anymore unless it’s Franco Manca on charges of making crazily awesome pizzas (yeah, bad I know but I couldn’t resist). And if you go to the Richmond branch? A couple of minutes walk and you can enjoy a post-digestive meander along the river Thames, perfect!