1 Franco Manca
Once upon a time there was only one Franco Manca, a humble little restaurant split across the isles of Brixton Market, where you would, without fail, have to queue for a table, sipping wine from tumblers as you waited. But those teeny walls couldn’t hold in the excellence of these slow-rising, blast-cooked sourdough pizzas forever, and now, after a sudden whoosh of expansion, you can choose from 18 Franco Manca restaurants across London. And do. They’re simple, amazing, and inexpensive. The Gloucester Old Spot ham with mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, wild mushrooms and a little tomato is a particular favourite, and only £6.85.
Your nearest sites are in Brixton, East Dulwich and Bermondsey Street. See francomanca.co.uk
2 Four Hundred Rabbits
Certainly the most imaginatively named (According to Aztec lore, the God of fermentation and Goddess of alcohol got together, resulting in no fewer than Four Hundred Rabbits, and since without alcohol and fermentation, there would be no beer or pizza, it seemed a fitting name), this seriously cool new place in Crystal Palace serves up cracking sourdough crusts furnished with a generous slathering of San Marzano tomato base and topped with inventive, seasonal toppings. Daily specials include the likes of smoked pig’s cheek, smoked Lincolnshire poacher, sweet corn and pea shoots. And the best bit/ you get to match them with a carefully curated selection of craft beers. Pizzas £6-£9.50.
30-32 Westow Street SE19 3AH; 020 8771 6249; 400rabbits.co.uk
Bianco43 soon grew from its original Greenwich premises to open a second, beautiful restaurant on Northumberland Avenue near Trafalgar Square and then a third, vast, white-washed base in Blackheath. Their pizzas never fail to please, with dough made in-house by expert Neapolitan pizza chefs using a special blend of flours created exclusively for Bianco43 by a family run mill in Italy. All this effort makes for a rich, tasty crust and there’s quite a selection of toppings, making it hard choose. I highly recommend the Capricciosa (tomato sauce, salame Napoli, cooked ham, artichokes, black gaeta olives and mozzarella, £10.90).
4 Mamma Dough
Honor Oak Park’s Mamma Dough recently opened a branch on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, where you can indulge in delicious sourdough pizzas (hand rolled daily from Shipton Mill organic rye, wholemeal and white flour) topped with the likes of goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, olives and walnuts (Winter Goat, £8). While the specialist meats, wines and all-important buffalo mozzarella hail from slightly further afield, their herbs and veg are seasonal and locally grown wherever possible, the coffee is roasted across the river in Shoreditch, craft beers are brewed within five miles of the restaurant and they make their our Ginger Ale on site. Oh and if you eat gluten-free, you can have your pizza served on cannellini beans baked in the oven.
Rocca is named after a small village in the Alban Hills south of Rome, where one of the partners in the business lived for many years. This lovely restaurant in Dulwich Village, with a terrace out front and a herb garden out back, makes its pizza bases with organic stone-milled wheat from Dorset and pops them in a stone-based oven that was hand built by three craftsmen from Naples. The Iberica (organic chorizo, black pudding, mozzarella and tomato, £8.20) and Napoletana (anchovies, tomato, mozzarella, chillies, capers and olives, £6.95) are both bold, punchy flavoured winners.
75-79 Dulwich Village SE21 7BJ; 020 8299 6333; roccarestaurants.com