I was thrilled to be invited to the winter menu launch night at one of my favourite local eateries! I was actually at the restaurant one Friday night on a first date when the Restaurant Manager, Paul Galvin, very kindly invited me and a guest to the event the following Wednesday. He was being a bro! What an exciting opportunity to sample the new menu items before anyone else, and all on the house too! How could I say no to free pizza?! Unlike my previous invite to this amazing restaurant, my mother wasn’t invited. Instead, a close friend of mine, Amy Boniface, managed to get the night off from childcare and wifely duties to join me.
On our arrival Paul gave us both a warm welcome and a complimentary welcome drink! How could we say no to an Aperol Spritz and a fresh orange juice?! We were seated at a long table along one of the walls of this triangular-shaped establishment. The table soon filled up with other local bloggers, a couple of Facebook competition winners and Emma who presents the Capital FM Breakfast show. Sorry, I just had to name-drop!! Amy and I knew we were in for a great night!
Very quickly, we were brought 2 of the new starters; chorizo bites and some large, bright green olives! The chorizo was cut nice and thinly and cooked just right. It’s so easy to overcook chorizo which makes it rubbery. The olives were so juicy and delicious. Amy, who isn’t a fan of olives, even tried one but she’s still not a fan!!
Amy and I perused the new menu. The most obvious addition to the menu are the salads, consisting of 2 side salads and 2 mains. All of which sound delicious. I also loved the fact that the desserts have been renamed to “post pizza”.
Before long, the next round of delicious starters were dispersed around the table of excitable diners. These included a delicious old spot sausage baked in tomato sauce, rosemary & sea salt focaccia and burrata!
I was so excited when a burrata was placed onto the table next to me, and I soon claimed as mine!! Burrata is… well… I can never describe it in an appetising way so I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it! It’s such a rare thing to find on a menu here in England but thankfully it seems to be a mainstay item at Franco Manca. I entrusted Amy, a burrata newbie, with the enviable task of cutting into it!!
I waxed lyrical to Amy about burrata. She liked it but wasn’t too sure on the texture, which is understandable because it’s a very unusual food!! It was served at the perfect temperature, too; not too cold.
Amy and I loved the baked mozzarella. Basically, it’s a small ball of mozzarella baked in a tomato and basil sauce. We compared it to a Margherita pizza minus the base and it’s perfect for dunking the new rosemary & sea salt focaccia into.
Not forgetting the wild boar platter!
Amy and I also tried a smoked mozzarella but weren’t too keen on the texture and smokey flavour.
We tried a couple of the new wines too! I jumped straight for the red, whilst Amy had the white. The red was delicious (I’m no wine expert) but the white seemed quite acidic.
Pizza with mortadella:
One of my favourite things to eat from the night! I absoloutely love mortadella and to have it on a pizza is my idea of heaven!
This certainly is an acquired taste. Amy and I weren’t sure on the smokey flavour and unusual texture of this one.
So many pizzas came out, I lost track of most of them but, as you can see above, there was plenty of variety!
Amy took this amazing photo…
I was a very happy bunny! Curiously, at this point in the evening, the settings on the camera must’ve been changed!!
Then came the chance to make pizzas ourselves! To use a wood-fired oven has been on my foodie bucket list for years and I was so excited when we were told we’d make our own pizzas! I was first in line, eager to use the oven. First we were told a little about the history of the brand and the fact that Franco Manca means ‘Frank is missing’ in homage to the original owner. Before long I was washing my hands and being shown how to press out the dough, retaining an airy cornichione. I make pizzas a lot at home and I impressed the pizzaioli. I deposited my raw pizza from the wooden peel onto the floor of the oven with one deftly flick of the wrist, then used a metal peel to spin it around. Before not too long, I raised the pizza to the roof of the oven and out it came, deliciously steaming hot. Then into a box and it was Amy’s turn…
But whose pizza is best? 🙂
It was such a fun night and it was smiles all around!
The evening couldn’t have gone any better…and then we were told our pudding was waiting at the table! Amy loved the lemon cake, whilst I polished off a tiramisu which was the perfect ‘pick-me-up’. I have no idea what was happening with the camera at this point!!
We had a few final words from Paul and the team and we all gave the chefs a big round of applause. We were all sent away with a goody bag!
The winter menu is out now and I can’t wait to go back! I’ve got my eye on the pizza topped with wild boar mortadella, but a whole one this time! Pop down to see Paul and his wonderful team!
Have you visited Franco Manca and tried the winter menu? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below…