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First review of Cardiff’s new pizzeria Franco Manca

The new Italian pizzeria can be found on Church Street, the city's foodie capital

Franco Manca, Cardiff

Franco Manca, the latest pizzeria to grace Cardiff has swung open its doors for the very first time in Wales.

The restaurant is conveniently located on Church Street opposite St John Baptist Church, and is the latest venue to form part of Cardiff’s unofficial foodie scene.

Church Street in Cardiff

When new restaurants pop up in Cardiff, we are usually first to talk about burgers and who has the best in the city. However, I’m saying it first, Cardiff is now the pizza capital of Wales with the array of pizzerias springing up. So let’s get down to it…

What makes Franco Manca different?

First procured by the pizzeria’s founder, Giuseppe Mascoli, near the city of Naples, the recipe still honours the ingredients and methods that make the age-old style of Neapolitan pizza unique, delicious and world-renowned.

The Franco Manca menu

Franco Manca pizzas are made with slow-rising sourdough, with a mother dough which dates back to the late 18th century, topped with fresh, properly sourced, seasonal ingredients.

So what’s it like?

The former Cornish Bakehouse building has been completely transformed and appears to have incorporated part of the now closed 10 Feet Tall venue next door.

Inside Franco Manca, Cardiff

The restaurant itself is very light and has been opened up with plenty of dine in and dine outside option. The decor has touches of a traditional Italian pizzeria with a modern twist, and is simply superb. At the heart of Franco’s is the oven, which looks stunning with tastefully tiled exterior. However, we were disappointed that the pizza oven is hidden away behind some espresso counters. We would love to see this opened up and more on display.

What we ordered

The staff are very friendly and welcoming, and were able to point us in the direction of a few house favourites, which we tried.

The dough is made fresh on site, with daily specials on offer, and menu prices starting at just £6.45.

Salt & rosemary pizza bread to start at Franco Manca

From the bites to start menu, we tried the sourdough pizza bread with salt & rosemary (£4.45). This gave us our first opportunity to try the famous sourdough and it was lovely with a hint of flavouring. As you can see from our photos, in true Italian style, the portions were incredible big and nothing like what we had expected.

The garlic bread with light tomato base + cheese

The garlic bread with light tomato base (£5.50) with added cheese (£6.50) was bursting with flavour. Another first for us was the tasting of the incredibly fresh San Marzano tomato based sauce, and it’s the best pizza sauce we have tasted in a long time.

Our mains 

“Number 7” on the menu at Franco Manca

Being a fan of all things spicy, I ordered number 7 on the menu, which is the lightly smoked beechwood spicy salami, organic tomato and mozzarella. (£10.45). It also comes with caramelised red onions, but not being an onions fan, I did ask for mine without. The salami itself was simply tasty with a bit of a kick. The pizza had that incredible fresh tomato base again, which is just to die for. I cannot stress how tasty the sauce is. Yum!

“Number 4” on the menu at Franco Manca

Our second choice was “Number 4” on the menu, the toasted cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta & wild mushrooms (£9.85). From the light sourdough base to the creamy ricotta and wild mushroom toppings, every mouthful tantalised the tastebuds. Our server did inform us that this particular pizza would usually come with less sauce if ordered straight from the menu. However, on their recommendation, we opted for some extra tomato sauce as it helped to blend the flavours seamlessly.

Now to talk about the sourdough base as it needs its own paragraph. Choosing sourdough as opposed to other types of dough is a very clever move. The pizza itself, although large in proportion, is much lighter than other pizzas that we’ve had elsewhere. However, being sourdough, the integrity of the pizza slice is maintained. It’s not too flimsy or soaking wet with oil, it keeps the crispiness without being rigid, and that’s simply because it’s sourdough and the fact it has been freshly produced onsite and proved for 24 hours.

The Franco Manca dips

On the side, our dips ( £1.85 each) included the fresh seasonal pesto, spicy ‘nduja and scotch bonnet chilli. All of these were equally bursting with flavour. Although we were no strangers to nduja, it’s the first time we’ve ever had it as a dip. The bright colour of the dip was a bit unexpected, but it was delicious with a hint of spice. It was incredibly cooling compared to the scotch bonnet, which although was hotted, was tongue tingling flavour wise. It’s definitely something that I’d have again and I would recommend for those who are a little adventurous.


Post pizza, we were starting to struggle with biting off more than we could chew with our starters. However, as we often do, we found the room to try some Italian classics – and we were very glad that we did.

Affogato at Franco Manca

The affogato, vanilla ice cream with an espresso shot (£4.25) was a nice balance of flavours and a bit of a pick me up after our mains. It’s a little different to what we would usually go for, but the encouragement from staff persuaded us and it was well worth it.

The homemade tiramisu at Franco Manca

The homemade tiramisu (£5.25), another Italian classic, was incredible light and fluffy with just the hint of coffee. We were quite surprised by its generous size, but it made for a welcome sharer between us.

Overall, we are really pleased to see Franco Manca. We had heard good things about the restaurant, and we’re pleased to see that although it is now officially ‘a chain’, they are still very much aligned to their humble beginnings.

Franco Manca Cardiff officially opened to the public on 24th October, and is celebrating the launch by offering 50% off all food for four days from opening until Thursday 27th October.