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Franco Manca Pizzeria, Birmingham

Home > Birmingham > Dinner | Lunch | Restaurants | Vegan | Vegetarian
by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published June 29th 2019
Get a pizza the action at Italian restaurant
Bennetts Hill in Birmingham city centre is becoming quite the food and drink hub with some of the trendiest places to go to now lining the street.

In the past year, new openings on this stretch have included The Pint Shop and Nocturnal Animals, not to mention Dirty Martini bar... and now there's another new kid on the block - Franco Manca Pizza.

Franco Manca pizzeria, Birmingham, Bennett's hill, restaurant reviews
Franco Manca has opened in Birmingham


Originating at London's Brixton Market just over 10 years ago, Franco Manca was the first pizzeria to offer Neopolitan sourdough pizzas in the UK.

It's these fluffy-based delights (a little like a thin naan bread in texture) that make Franco Manca an exciting new option in the heart of Birmingham city centre.

The eatery has a casual chicness about it - exposed metal pipes and vintage-style white tiled walls to add to the light and fresh ambience. It's open plan, so diners can see the kitchen and the fresh handmade pizzas being constructed before put into a dome-roofed stone oven.

This type of distinctive pizza - slow-rising sourdough - dates back to Italy in the late 18th century. The pizzeria's founder, Giuseppe Mascoli got hold of the recipe and learned the techniques involved near the famous southern Italian city of Naples before bringing it back to England's shores.

You'll find the pizzas are very different to those found in eateries like Pizza Express, Pizza Hut or even Ask Italian, which is directly opposite this new restaurant, as these soughdough pizzas have much less tomato and cheese while the bread is one of the main selling points. Slightly crisp yet chewy, plus light and fluffy too. All the nice things that bread can be.

Franco Manca pizzeria, Birmingham, Bennett's hill, restaurant reviews
A minimalist chic interior at Franco Manca


The menu isn't overly packed when it comes to pizzas as there is the choice of just seven regular meat, vegetable and vegan pizza options, but there are daily specials too. For vegans, there is the option of vegan cheese instead of mozzarella and then their choice of toppings. There's also a gluten-free option.

The pizza starts at £5 for the most basic of tomato, garlic and oregano, followed by tomato, mozzarella and basil at £6.75. rising to £9 for the most extravagant toppings.

Focusing on what they know works well, these regular options include the popular 'no. 4', featuring Cornish cured ham, wild mushrooms and a mix of mozzarella and buffalo ricotta at £7.95. Then there is 'Alfonso's no 7' with no tomato on the base but a topping of spicy lamb sausage from the Yorkshire Dales, tomatoes from Gragnano, roasted aubergine, mozzarella and wild garlic pesto that has been made with garlic foraged by its teams on trips out in the Dorset countryside (£9).

Vegetarians will prefer the 'no 3'. This again comes with no tomato base, but toppings of roasted courgettes, ricotta, mozzarella, yellow tomatoes from Vesuvio and fresh mint leaves (£7.95)

I tried the 'no 6' with tomato, mozzarella and cured Iberico chorizo - the premium type of chorizo made from the best cuts of Iberico pork - and you could taste it. Simple yet packed with flavour; the rich, warm chorizo and light dough was a divine combination (£8.25).

There's also the 'no 5' of tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, Cantabrian anchovies and mozzarella (£8) on the regular menu list.

Franco Manca pizzeria, Birmingham, Bennett's hill, restaurant reviews
An open kitchen in the new pizzeria


Although the pizza is the main event, there's plenty of other options. For starters, there's bites to share with the usual olives and garlic or pizza bread choices but there's also the more exciting Italian cheese delicacy of Burrata pugliese (£5.70) or a baked spicy lamb sausage with potatoes and mozzarella (£4.35).

Main course salads for those trying to be healthy add a touch of zest to the usual choices with plenty of flavoursome ingredients that are true to the nature of Franco Manca.

There's a salad featuring roasted butternut squash, artichokes, dry San Marzano tomatoes, goat's cheese, walnuts, alfalfa sprouts, mixed salad leaves and the house dressing (£7.75). Alternatively, there's one with lightly spiced chicken, crispy bacon, caramelised onions, alfalfa sprouts, Franco and Cantarelli Grana, mixed salad leaves and the house dressing (£7.85).

Valentino Orestano, Franco Manca's Birmingham Head Pizzaiolo, has said the emphasis for this eatery is on stocking quality products. That ranges from not just what goes on the pizza but also extends to beers from local craft brewers and natural Italian wine. The wines are all Italian, organic and/or biodynamic.

Then there are the desserts, again quite a simple list. These are priced from £2.65 for a scoop or sorbet or ice cream to £3.95 for lemon almond cake, chocolate and hazelnut cake or tiramisu.

Open from 11.30am every day until 11pm each night, except Sundays when it closes early at 10pm, this Italian offers another alternative for diners and only adds to the growing attention for Bennetts Hill.
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Why? Fancy a pizza in Birmingham tonight?
When: Mon – Sat 11:30am – 11pm or Sun 11:30am– 10pm
Phone: 0121 630 3009
Where: 18 - 19 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5QJ
Cost: From £5 a pizza
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