First up, Franco Manca in Chiswick. The original restaurant is in Brixton Market but, mainly due to limited opening hours, I've never made it over there. The new-ish branch in Chiswick is bigger, takes bookings and is open every day until 11pm.
The restaurant has a casual, rustic feel to it, with wooden tables and benches, a tiled floor and hanging ham legs. The menu is short, apparently showcasing seasonal ingredients, although I was a little surprised to see they were still offering the summer menu in mid-November...
But no matter, the food we had was excellent. We started with beautiful, rich burrata (Italian cheese made with mozarella and cream) and panouzzi (flame grilled bread) topped with ricotta, roasted cherry tomato and truffle oil. Both starters were delicious and just served to whet our appetites for the main event.
Oft cited as London's best pizza, I have to say it really does live up to the hype. The pizza base is made from slow rising sourdough and cooked in a wood burning oven. The result is a base slightly charred and crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. I'm sure it would be delicious with just a drizzle of olive oil but of course, it's even better with additional toppings. I went for the veg special: caramelised red onion, gorgonzola and spinach. Marc went for a similar pizza with the addition of Serrano ham.
Full and happy, the bill was a pleasant end to the meal. At just over £40, including three glasses of wine and three beers, this is extremely good value - particularly when you take into account the quality of the ingredients.
I will most definitely be going back. As often as possible!