It could sound like the title of a Netflix thriller but there’s a more heart-warming story behind the name of one of Brum’s most popular pizzerias.
Franco Manca means “Franco is missing” in Italian. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to send out a search party.
Because the fun pizzeria in Bennetts Hill was named in honour of its founder who after 22 years decided to leave the business in the capable hands of his loyal friend.
In 1986 Francos was a pizzeria in Brixton Market owned by, you guessed it, a guy called Franco.
In 2008 he decided it was time to step back from the business and asked his friend, Giuseppe Mascoli, to take over.
Giuseppe teamed up with his friend and artisan baker Bridget Hugo to run the business.
But they didn’t want founder Franco’s hard work to be forgotten. So they decided to call the business the Italian equivalent of “Franco is Missing”.
Since then Franco Manca has gone from strength to strength.
Giuseppe and Bridget set about reshaping the pizzeria by building a special oven and transformed their pizzas by using slow-rising freshly made sourdough.
They created a simple menu with quality local ingredients (including British mozzarella) influenced by Neapolitan cuisine.
Giuseppe is originally from Positano which is a Margherita’s throw from Naples (although don’t try that if you’re on holiday in Italy.)
Despite neither of them running a restaurant before Franco Manca became a hit and people began making pizza pilgrimages to Brixton’s covered market and there were regular queues around the block.
Realising they had a recipe for success Giuseppe and Bridget began to open other Franco Mancas around the UK.
They proved so popular that you can now buy T Shirts and ‘Pizza in the Post’ kits which deliver all the ingredients you need to make Franco Manca pizza at home.
You’ll find Birmingham’s pizzeria housed in a former bank on Bennetts Hill just around the corner from New Street.
It’s light, bright and a fun place to go, especially, for families (which little ones wouldn’t be tempted by pizza, a drink and ice cream for £5.95?)
Grown-ups can choose from classic Italian pizzas and dishes alongside ones with a flavoursome twist (free range Yorkshire fennel sausage anyone?) and wines, beers and cocktails.
The emphasis is on fresh, organic ingredients. There are vegan and gluten-free options too and the restaurant’s ‘pizzaioli’ are happy to tailor your pizza to dietary requirements.
It’s hard not to warm to the Franco Manca’s outlook on food and life. Just check out their website and you’ll find the following words of wisdom.
“Whatever the question. The answer is pizza.”