A pizzeria soft launch on a bank holiday Monday on my nearby Northcote Road: the recipe for a new opening that I couldn’t resist! So dragging my local but reluctant companion, who was definitely more keen on enjoying the tried and tested Radio Alice or Franco Manca, to Manifesto we went…Cards on the (dining) table, I’d been swayed to this start-up when I’d read about it’s founder who is an ex-Natoora director. The quality of its ingredients – everything from the tomatoes, of course, to the olives and cheese – would be guaranteed (I hoped!). And their no-fuss approach, which is often a sign of all energies being focused on the food, could equally be a good indication I thought!
When I say no-fuss, this is definitely reflected in their décor (surprising for a Northcote Road establishment and a reason for the paucity in photographic record): old-school terrazzo tiles, the printed menu on scraps of small A6 paper, and no service, order at the counter pizzas presented on mint green 1970s-style trays. Did I mention the table-size?! Definitely too small as I ended up learning when the adjacent diners spilled their (organic) cola on my French Soles…But their creative choice of font is a breath of fresh air; and this groovy writing is effectively used on the wall where it’s used to display the menu.
Manifesto take an equally no frills approach to its dining: a la Homeslice, no cutlery is provided, there’s no black pepper grinder (a sin for an Italian restaurant in my book!) and their short menu features just six pizzas (though ingredients can be swapped around). I went for Daisy (£6.50) -a classic margherita – to which I added some mushrooms and rocket for interest. Given the simplicity of the features described above – the décor, the menu and the fact that on this opening night, no table service was provided – the pizzas had to be unbeatable.
As you’d expect, Manifesto pride themselves on their sourcing, almost with military precision as the name of this place suggests. But I feel that this has come at the expense of the quality of their bases: Franco Manco’s sourdough or better yet, Zia Lucia’s charcoal base undoubtedly beats Manifesto’s. Whilst it is stone-baked, it didn’t have the depth of flavours that you’d get from the aforementioned and didn’t have that artisan touch.
For me, though, the produce above the base didn’t disappoint. Though my companion wasn’t blown away by hers, the quality of (petals!) on my Daisy (pun just had to be done) were blossoming. The tomatoes were summery sweet and the Puglian stringy and melting Fior de Latte was top notch. But given the quality of some of London’s pizzerias, to compete, the bases and produce together must be a winning formula.
Though soft launches aren’t for all, for me they’re an excuse to try somewhere new, go off the beaten track – albeit the Northcote Road is very well-trodden – and are one of the most exciting things about London. Plus, this opening night was 50% off so my bank holiday Monday treat came in at only £4! Serving pleasing (though not ground-breaking or as my companion pointed out, Homeslice experimental) pizzas at a price that won’t break the bank, Manifesto is likely to become a new favourite for a casual meal in Battersea, albeit there is definite room for improvement.
Manifesto, 148 Northcote road, SW11 6RD