Everyone that's been following my Instagram will have seen the amazing garlic bread and mozzarella shot I posted a few days ago. If that made you drool, here's a little warning that this post contains even more food shots, including pizza pictures. Safety first: if you haven't eaten then go get yourself a snack because this blog is about to make you HUNGRY.
Are you ready?
Last week, I was invited to try out the new Franco Manca at Brighton Marina. The Marina is quickly becoming one of my favourite places - it's a little out of the way but there's free parking and there's so many lovely places to go... and, of course, there are beautiful views too!
After a long day in London, I was so excited to meet the squad for pizzas and a bit of girl time (I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to Jamie, who was subjected to girl talk and adopted as our new photographer). Please go check out this fab group of girls - Ashley, Beckie Nye, Georgia Knight, and The Brightoner.
The restaurant made the most of the harbour facing view with gorgeous big windows, which gave a lovely warm glow to the place. The decor was a mix of classic tiling and hilarious cartoons and the subtle details were perfect - like this door to 'nowhere'.
I chose to try an 'Aperol Spritz' - which is apparently THE Italian aperitif cocktail. The mix of classic Prosecco and fruity Aperol creates a cocktail which is refreshing and far too easy to drink! (The fact it's served in a tumbler really didn't help!)
To start, we shared three of the 'Bites' - a garlic bread, a buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto ham and another buffalo mozzarella, this time served with a tomato, olive and pesto salad and some crisp breads. I'm not usually a fan of sharing, but there was something really lovely about sharing these starters. They recommended one portion between two people and that was the perfect amount - although I wouldn't be able to choose between the garlic bread and the mozzarella with prosciutto!
What I love about Franco Manca is that the menu is quite limited, with only 6 pizzas on the menu. I don't like having too much of a choice with my food, and it means that all the flavour pairings are perfect. I decided to go off menu and chose their 'Meat Special' which had mozzarella, stilton, ham, spinach and caramelised onions. I wasn't sure about whether the stilton would overpower the rest of the flavours, but they'd put on just the right amount to allow all the ingredients to shine through. The sourdough bases are so much lighter than regular bases and I loved being able to watch the pizzas being made in the 500°C wood burning oven just metres away from our table!
You'd think after the starters and a whole pizza we'd be done, right? Well, think again! We are food bloggers and we will stuff ourselves in the name of our readers!
The range of desserts was really surprising and a few of the girls opted for the lemon and rosemary cake (which they definitely would recommend) but I felt like something a bit different. I debated having the raspberry sorbet but ended up going for the greek yoghurt with honey and blueberries. It's not something I'd usually order at a restaurant - everyone that knows me will know about my obsession with a certain Italian chain's honeycomb cheesecake - but I fancied something light and it really hit the spot.
We finished with a round of Limoncello shots and a walk along the top of the Marina's car park to capture the sunset and attempt to take candids... We learnt that we're not as photogenic as Taylor Swift's girl gang just yet, but we're working on it!
All in all, I really enjoyed Franco Manco. I've been to the Guildford branch a couple of times and I'm pleased to say that I've never had any complaints.
My favourite thing is the focus on fresh ingredients - watching the staff rub an item off the giant blackboard menu can be disappointing, but it's a great reminder of the hard work all the chefs put into freshly making all of the pizzas!
I'd definitely recommend!
*I was kindly invited by Franco Manca, but all opinions are my own.