365Bristol Lunch Hour: Franco MancaPosted on: 06 Dec 2018
Lunchtime. It’s surely the best part of the working day. It marks the end of the slow, coffee-fuelled morning and the beginning of those final hours in the afternoon before we get to leave work. If your workspace is centrally located like ours, it’s good to go for a lunchtime ramble now and again in search of a great spot to sit down and munch until your heart’s content. Dining out for lunch is a good chance to catch up with a friend, loved one or spend the hour alone to treat yourself once in a while! Alternatively, if you’re an employer, the lunch hour is the perfect time to take the employees out to a well-deserved meal as a thank you for their hard work.
With Bristol being the foodie hotspot that it is, there's a seemingly endless number of fantastic restaurants in and around the city centre. You can find food from all over the globe from a wide range of eateries here, and with so many flavours to be sampled, we have made it our mission to test, try and time as many as we can. This time around we headed to Franco Manca on Clare Street.
One of many establishments that started out in London and found its way to Bristol, Franco Manca is a modern and stylish pizzeria located just a short walk from Bristol's downtown office district. Since opening late last year the restaurant appears to have won Bristolians over, and it's quickly become one of the city centre's go-to spots for a quality, relaxed bite to eat.
It wasn't long after we sat down that our drinks order was taken by the attentive and friendly member of staff. Deciding on Franco Manca's own No Logo Lager and a homemade lemonade, we were pleasantly surprised by both. We opted to share a starter in the knowledge that a full pizza each was likely to finish us off, and so went for the Aubergine Parmigiana - a delicious little melting pot of fresh mozzarella, herbs, homemade tomato ragu and tasty charred aubergine. The dish was tangy and flavourful and the generous helping of mozzarella was in no way overpowering or too heavy.
The pizza menu itself is relatively short and sweet, a selection of dishes strewn with fresh ingredients ranging from locally-sourced Gloucester Old Spot ham to Calabrian anchovies and creamy ricotta. I went for the 'Number 5' offering - a vegetarian pizza topped with dried San Marzano tomatoes, roasted potato, onion, mozzarella, light stilton and seasonal pesto, while Hannah opted for the 'Number 3' topped with the aforementioned Old Spot cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta and wild mushrooms.
Both pizzas were served on a fantastically fluffy and light sourdough base, but it was the individual toppings that stole the show here. Hannah's ricotta was sharp and creamy, whereas the dried tomatoes on mine was punchy, complementing the texture of the potato. A potato topping, by the way, was a strange one for me but was excellent nonetheless. We went for two dips to accompany the pizzas - one pesto and one stilton - but found these to be slightly rich.
We hardly had room for dessert after finishing our pizzas but after a short time deliberating we both agreed that it'd really be rude not to try at least one. We decided to share the Franco Manca Tiramisu and certainly made the right choice. It wasn't much of a looker but the dessert was light, creamy and delicious - exactly what you want to wind down from a doughy main meal. If you've got time on your lunch break to grab a dessert after your pizza, we heartily recommend this one.
The service at Franco Manca was fast and personable, the food is almightily fresh and prepared on the spot, and the interior is cosy and welcoming. Given that it's so close to so many city centre offices and that a full meal there won't cost you much more than a tenner, it should absolutely be on your radar the next time you're looking for a lunchtime spot. There's usually no need to book given the restaurant's abundance of space - check out the full menu below and get to Franco Manca as soon as you can!
Having moved to Bristol from Cornwall in 2015, Matt recently completed a degree in Journalism at UWE. He is keen on a wide variety of musical genres, as well as taking an interest in art and illustration, producing his own work in his spare time. Matt makes the most of Bristol's diverse nightlife and attends live music and club nights regularly. Get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.