Franco Manca, Leeds – Restaurant Review
Franco Manca, Leeds
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
Laid back, fuss-free service when I go out to eat is something I really like. But often, the food matches the service and you can walk out of a restaurant feeling a little underwhelmed.
There’s a new pizza joint opened in Leeds city centre that is fuss-free right from the entry, to the menu, to the service. But here, they let the food do the talking – and this is where Franco Manca really has a lot to say.
“No names, just numbers”
It’s a two-tier restaurant situated on the left of Trinity Street. It’s slightly tucked away before you walk in to the shopping centre. And the nice warm welcome you get as you walk in is immediately countered by the bustling vibe from the busy restaurant on this Saturday afternoon. People are in good spirits, and having a good time.
We were taken to a table upstairs and we sit down to a one-sided paper menu, with a choice of seven pizzas to pick from. There was a small number of specials on the board too, and that meant that we weren’t going to take forever deciding what we were going to go for today.
And the simplicity starts here. We’re left to it. We scan the menu and see the pizzas have no names, just numbers. The drinks are branded as ‘No Logo’ and the service is non-intrusive and friendly.
When it comes to pizza, my friend and I have this unwritten, and probably unspoken rule: “Order the one with as much meat on as you can!” We always do it, and we were thinking the same thing today. Two pizzas really stuck out for us. The meat special, and the number 7 from the main menu.
With that, we decided to just share everything we ordered, because the fear of missing out on the best out of the two was just unbearable! We also went for a garlic bread as a sharing starter, and some olives to nibble on while we waited.
Drinks wise it was the No Logo lager for us both. And I must say it was a nice, crisp beer to land on our taste buds. Really refreshing, and we spent a bit of time catching up whilst we waited for our food.
“Nod of approval”
The interior of this place is nice. It’s modern, though heading towards minimal, with some nice pieces of art here and there for that bit of flair. And it was whilst we were gazing round that we saw the other plates coming out to diners. Huge they were. And we wondered if our table for two was going to be big enough.
We immediately did that thing where you re-arrange stuff on the table to try and create more space, and you salvage maybe 3cm.
We waited a bit longer than we’d anticipated for our food, and our garlic bread came at the same time as both pizzas. But, miraculously, everything fit nicely on our table. When it came to divvying our dishes up we devised a system, shared everything out and we tucked in.
And wow. It was worth the few extra minutes wait. Our first bites were met with that nod of approval you give with your mouthful, and it was one of those moments where you knew you’d finish the lot.
The meat special was a lighter eat, with British tomato and yellow tomato from Vesuvio. Free range nduja from Calabria adorned it, along with burrata pugliese. It had a lot of oil over it, but the stonebaked base meant that we didn’t have any nasty soggy bits of dough to contend with as we ate. It wasn’t rich, but lightly flavoursome and it was a good choice. The subtle spice of the nduja stood out for me.
But it was Alfonso’s No 7 pizza that won the award for dish of the day. An absolutely stunning pizza, which was worth our visit alone. With mozzarella and wild garlic pesto it delivered the herby kind of vibe. But the big ingredient that we both savoured was its spicy lamb sausage. Rich in flavour and a hint of hot, it was the part of the meal that stayed in the mouth for a bit longer after the pizza had been devoured. The bit where you think “I’ll have an extra topping of that next time”
It’s highlighted in red on the menu. And I know the reason for that (turn the menu over and find out another reason). And at £9.00 it’s the most expensive pizza on the list, but worth every penny and more.
“Perhaps the best pizza Leeds has to offer”
What we did miss on our way through, but not on our way back out was the chefs, busily making fresh pizza to order. No idea how we missed them (right by the door) but seeing them in action is quite exciting. They were flying through preparation, and doing so in quite an orderly whizzy manner. I wish we’d have taken time to watch them a bit more.
We’d had a very nice, memorable visit to Franco Manca. Our two hours here illustrated why there was a restaurant full of people enjoying themselves when we walked in. It’s a place that you can’t help but love, and think about returning to before you’ve even finished your food.
As a side note, when I passed the following day, there was a queue of people waiting to get seated that spilled in to the street. A good 25-30 people waiting to dine at this place which is picking up a well-deserved rep for perhaps the best pizza Leeds has to offer.
Franco Manca, 1 Trinity street, Leeds LS1 6AP
Mon – Sat: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Sun: 11.30am – 10.00pm
0113 403 3713