Review: Franco Manca brings the heat with brand-new summer menu

With the Cardiff restaurant having opened just under seven months ago, it’s safe to say Franco Manca – with its stand out location on Church Street opposite St John Baptist Church – is very popular with pizza lovers. As the restaurant chain turns 15 this year, we see more topping choices introduced, and diner favourites remaining.

Franco Manca Cardiff

We Brits love the brighter evenings and the sunshine that the summer brings with it (well, we hope). With the new season approaching, Franco Manca’s menu just got bigger and better. It also means, you can take advantage of the al fresco dining option to sink your teeth into the all new additions. The Cardiff restaurant is in somewhat a unique position, enabling you to watch the world go by whilst taking in some of the city’s glorious architecture. 

Sourdough pizza pioneers Franco Manca have been working hard to introduce a host of new seasonal pizzas, starters and desserts to its already delicious menu. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect when you choose to dine there this summer…

In the beginning… 

A selection of lite bites suitable as either starters, or in addition to your main have been added. Introducing a fresh vegetarian sharing platter including San Marzano tomatoes, grilled artichokes and piquillo peppers; a buffalo mozzarella & marinated baby plum tomato salad; beef ragù al forno; and Tuscan pork fennel sausage & buffalo mozzarella bruschetta.

Franco Manca’s Tuscan pork fennel sausage & buffalo mozzarella bruschetta (£6.25

Of these new dishes, we tried the Tuscan pork fennel sausage & buffalo mozzarella bruschetta (£6.25) and buffalo mozzarella & marinated baby plum tomato salad (£7.50).

The buffalo mozzarella & marinated baby plum tomatoes

The buffalo mozzarella & marinated baby plum tomatoes with mint was refreshing on the luckily sunny Cardiff evening. If you fancy a creamier cheese, you can change to burrata (extra £1). As a cheese lover, this dish couldn’t be turned down. The tomatoes were fresh and juicy; with a subtle hint of mint finishing it off perfectly.

Our favourite was definitely the Tuscan pork fennel sausage & buffalo mozzarella bruschetta. With all the ingredients fresh and bursting with a meaty flavour, it is definitely one we’d try as a pizza next time… No.10 on the menu if you are interested! 

Onto the mains…

The number one reason why people choose to go to Franca Manca is of course their pizzas, which is famed for its sourdough bases paired with delicious toppings. The fact that it has all been freshly made on-site and proved for 24 hours makes it even better. What is so great about the menu at Franco is how inclusive it is for vegetarians, vegans and meat lovers alike.

With four new pizzas introduced, it’s difficult to decide but there is something to tantalise most peoples’ tastebuds. Look out for the all-new No.8 with slow cooked beef ragù; No. 9 with wild mushroom, truffle and burrata; No.10 with Tuscan pork fennel sausage; and a returning favourite, the No.3 with halloumi and courgette.

No. 8 slow-cooked beef ragù pizza, Franco Manca

No. 8 stood out to us, with its slow-cooked beef ragù, organic tomato, mozzarella, cheese sauce, crispy pancetta & fresh basil (£11.25) and No. 9 wild mushrooms, burrata, truffle pesto base, mozzarella & fresh basil (£11.25)

The best way to describe No.8 is bolognese on a pizza, yeh I said it. This could be considered blasphemy but once you’ve taken a bite, it’s difficult not to notice with each mouthful with its meaty sauce. The beef was just bursting with flavour and the addition of the cheese sauce was unexpected but well balanced. The strips of crispy pork belly meat flavours are striking, more so than we expected due to the type of base sauce used. 

No. 9 with wild mushroom, truffle and burrata pizza

No. 9 was the first time we’d tried a pesto based pizza, and we were pleasantly surprised by not missing that familiar tomato sauce you associate with pizza. With so many flavours and textures, especially the creamy burrata, this pizza left us the most pleasantly surprised of the dishes.

And that’s the thing, the new pizzas might be on the adventurous side for some, but they’ve been created with the ‘taste of summer’ in mind, and offer something a little different with a Franco Manca twist. Put your trust in Franco Manca we say, and you won’t be disappointed. 

To finish…

New salted caramel ice cream (£4.50) at Franco Manca

Along with the new savoury dishes, Franco’s have introduced new desserts including four delicious new ice-cream flavours, two of which are vegan salted caramel and chocolate & blood orange.

With how light the pizzas are thanks to the sourdough base, we still had space for something sweet, we went for a classic favourite homemade tiramisù (£5.50) and the all new salted caramel ice cream (£4.50).

Tiramisù at Franco Manca

Tiramisù is always so nice, that bitterness from the coffee mixed with the sweet mascarpone is the perfect caffeine hit for coffee lovers – and a great after dinner dessert. 

We’ve noticed that salted caramel is fast becoming a popular flavour across all restaurants. As a vegan ice cream, we were surprised to find no noticeable difference in texture or taste to a regular ice cream. This dessert is sweet whilst offering a subtle taste of saltiness. As fans of ‘salted’ desserts, we ambitiously went for two scoops, but most people will be more than satisfied with one. Opt for two, if you don’t mind sharing.

So, whether you wish to venture out and try the new menu or stick to the classics, there truly is something for everyone at Franco Manca this spring and summer. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the specials, as these change daily too.

Franco Manca’s 15th birthday celebrations will continue throughout the summer, with a host of special menus, offers and events, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled on and the brand’s social media channels for more details.

Latest Cardiff News | Wales