Franco Manca – Balham


Holding the title of ‘best pizza in London’ by many people is probably quite daunting for some. However, Franco Manca absolutely deliver every single time I have visited (and I have visited it a lot), consistently producing amazing pizzas. The menu is very small, only 6 regular pizzas with one meat special and one veg special a day. I pretty much go for the same pizza every time because it is so divine!

The Balham restaurant has been around for about 6 months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t queues out the door most nights. Don’t let the queues put you off though, the restaurant has a pretty quick turnaround so you wont be waiting too long. If you really don’t do queuing then there is a pizza express exactly opposite, but do you really want to turn down visiting the best pizza in London for a chain restaurant?!

Luckily the last time we went it was pretty late so we were seated straight away. Tap water arrived and pizzas were ordered. I went for my usual no.6 which is topped with both dry & semi-dry chorizo. I am an absolute sucker for anything containing chorizo so this naturally is my choice most of the time. The sourdough pizza is blast cooked in a wood-burning “Tuff” brick oven that is actually made in Naples, and so it arrives at our table very quickly indeed! I’m sure I have never had to wait longer than 5 minutes max. between ordering and eating. You will notice (and hopefully you can see from the picture) that the pizza isn’t quite like your normal pizza. Many people have likened it to a naan bread due to it’s soft and doughy texture, even the crusts are lovely and soft so please do not discard these if you usually do that! It is very easy to eat and usually has disappeared within about 5 minutes, leaving me one full and happy girly. The no.6 has a tomato base, some come with only a little bit of tomato and others none at all. I found the ones with only a little tomato (no.4) were less easy to eat because it is more dry due to having less sauce. It does have ricotta but it just personally isn’t enough. If ever I decide to venture away from my usual I always make sure to add extra tomato sauce to it (at an extra cost though, boo…). However I will always keep coming back to Franco Manca because it has a special place in my heart, and just looking at the above picture makes me drool.

The Balham restaurant is relatively small but feels like a real restaurant. For this reason I prefer the Brixton branch – It has bigger queues but it has a great atmosphere and a rustic feel. Franco Manca also has a branch in Chiswick, Tottenham court road, Northcote road, Stratford’s Westfield and Broadway market.

The Bill? A bank-breaking £6.95 for the ‘best pizza in London’… Bloody bargain!

53 Bedford Hill, London, SW12 9EZ

Franco Manca on Urbanspoon


Cattle Grid – Balham

Having moved to within walking distance from Balham, on a hungover Sunday afternoon me and 3 friends were in need of something edible. “Something fried” was my friends only requirement.

I have walked past Cattle Grid several times as it is right by Balham station but have never ventured in. It recently underwent a re-furb and opened up again on the 12th, so we decided to give it a try. This was at about 3.30pm and the place was pretty busy (which I find is always a good sign), there was no space on the ground floor so we were taken upstairs and ended up having the whole top floor to ourselves for the entire meal. Upstairs is nowhere near as pretty as the ground floor, which is lovely and light and has some beautiful tiles on the floor. It slightly seems like they forgot about upstairs! The one nice thing was that we were eye level with all the trains pulling in to Balham station which was nice to watch as we waited.

Being the only people upstairs I was slightly worried we were going to be forgotten by our waitress (a nice blonde Australian lady). It was OK but I’m sure if we were downstairs we would have had a better service. I liked the look of the menu, all on one laminated page and had a “Cow” and “Pig” section. We also were given a bottle of water almost immediately on sitting down which is great. I ordered a beef burger with mature cheddar and bacon, and seeing as how it doesn’t come with chips i ordered a side of them too!

Once again i got overly excited and ate half before taking a picture, and i also apologize for the quite poor picture too! I blame hungover me.

Cattle Grid

So, thoughts. I wasn’t particularly impressed to be honest. The waitress said that the burger is usually cooked medium which was OK for me. It definitely was not medium, it had no pink to it at all! (my friends “rare” burger is what i would probably consider medium) It was actually quite dry and over-cooked, I don’t really understand how though because there was so much juice (fat?) dripping out the end of the burger on each mouthful. I don’t think it particularly tasted of much either which is a shame really. The bacon on top was quite thick and relatively chewy, and the cheese was barely melted in the middle of the burger. The bun was brioche-esque and looked quite dry but thankfully wasn’t, it also didn’t disintegrate which is a positive! There was also a good burger to bun ratio. This chips were skin-on which i always love, and they weren’t too bad! I think they needed an added something though, maybe some sort of seasoning?

All in all, a bit of a let down on the burger front! However, my friends ribs looked awesome so maybe just burgers are not their forte? I’m undecided on if I would go back, maybe to try the ribs. But the more I think about it the less likely I think I will go back. There are just so many other better restaurants out there!

Overall the bill came to £12 for me which included: burger and fries (no drink)

1 Balham Station Road, London, SW12 9SG

Cattle Grid on Urbanspoon