First of all, a confession, I am obsessed by pizza. My life is one long quest for pizza perfection. I have been to Naples just to eat pizza. Living quite close to Pizza 500 we are in there all the time. So who is Fatto A Mano, this young upstart opening a pizzeria on London Road, not 500 metres away? Well, they are the owners of Bread and Milk in North Laine and this is their first foray into the now almost cool London Road.
On a warm Thursday in October there are people eating outside, and as you enter authenticity is practically dripping off the walls. Classic pizza oven, happy chefs on show, short menu, very few choices of pizza. It was love at first sight for me...
I don't normally eat a starter in a pizza restaurant, but I have to for you, dear reader, to get a feel for the whole menu. To be honest, most of the starters are of the 'bready' type: focaccia, bruschetta, calzoncino etc. As I am about to eat a whole pizza, I go for the affettato misto (mixed cured meats and salamis) which comes with (a small amount of) some superb toasted bread and olive oil, creating a lovely rich plateful. Include a pickled vegetable or two or some olives and this starter would be a real winner. The slightly tart, but juicy Falanghina wine from Campania (where buffalo mozzarella comes from too) works perfectly with the cured meats.
The wine list has many tempting choices, including on-trend 'Grillo' from Sicily and 'Pecorino' (not the cheese..) from Abruzzo. The very local and super delicious Bison Beers are on sale here too, which makes a change from the ever present Peroni.
The main event is not far behind the starter and I have heard lots of chatter on social media about the pizzas at Fatto A Mano, so was it worth all the hype? Too right! Straight in at number one for me. The reason it stands (slightly) above the opposition is this; the dough is slightly firmer, so the sauce doesn't all pool in the middle to make a soggy mouthful. And it isn't just that. Many people say pizza is all about the dough, but not me. Fatto A Mano get the perfect combination of milky mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and sweet basil just right, and this is no easy task. Today I am a purist and opt for the traditional Margherita, but there are a few more choices for next time: Napoletana, Diavola, two types of Calzone plus five different 'white pizzas' which leave out the tomato sauce.
The most expensive food item on the menu is the Calzone which is a mere £9. The Margherita is £5, I shall say that again. My pizza, one of the best I have ever tasted in a restaurant is £5...
The gelato is already on its way as I slip slowly down into my chair with a big grin on my face. The almost savoury pistachio flavour was a real winner for me - sadly, it is not made in Brighton, but good quality all the same. The torta della nonna (Grandma's cake) was also winking at me, but it will have to be next time Nonna.
My only criticism would be that my tap water appeared to have met a cucumber at some point (why do people do this?) and my starter needed an olive or two, but really I am nit picking here. The pizzas are first rate, as good as almost anywhere in Italy. That is reason enough to come here.Fatto A Mano
77 London Road