A neighbourhood pizzeria serving up the best Neapolitan pizza in town
Fatto a Mano, Brighton Review
Fatto a Mano is the second Neapolitan pizza joint to open in Brighton over the last few months, following the rather excellent Nu Posto on West Street – yes, horrible, hen night ridden West Street now has a top notch pizzeria believe it or not. It really is a ‘see it to believe’ kind of deal.
Anyway, Fatto a Mano itself is located in the now trendy part of London Road, opposite the World’s End and a stones throw from the Hare & Hounds and The Joker. The name means ‘handmade’ and owner Rupert Davidson, a father of two from Brighton (who also owns Bread and Milk on Trafalgar Street) was inspired to open the pizzeria after family holidays in Italy, particularly Naples, where he loved the Italian way of eating as a family, the wood-fired method of cooking pizza and the simplicity and purity of the product.
Don’t worry though, he’s not doing the cooking. The head ‘pizzaiolo’ Andrea Basilicata, is from Naples and formerly worked at Franco Manca, Princi and the Hearth, and has been a pizza chef for almost 20 years.
Key produce is imported from Italy in order to maintain authenticity – San Marzano tomatoes, caputo flour from Naples, fior di latte mozzarella but they also use local suppliers as much as possible including Barfield Butchers and Bison Beer in Brighton.
Neapolitan pizza is predictably from Naples, the birthplace of pizza but it’s a style that some love and some hate. Not thin and crispy or a pizza pie, but soft and pillowy. Fatto a Mano’s dough is made on site twice a day every day, proved for a minimum of 10 hours, then topped by the pizzaiolos who cooks every pizza in a beautifully mosaiced wood fired oven at 450 degrees.
The menu offers pizza in several, very reasonably priced forms – Red Pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, White Pizza without a tomato base, Calzone and Saltimbocca and you can even have a Calzoncino Fritto (Fried Folded Pizza) as a starter or side. Booze is equally reasonably priced here with wine starting at £16 a bottle.
If you’re not in a pizza mood then firstly, why are you here?! But secondly don’t worry, there are three lovely salad options alongside all that pizza including Asparagus Bruschetta with Parma Ham, Rocket & Parmasan, Balsamic Dressing (£8.50).
We turned up on a Thursday evening around 8 expecting to wait for a table but luckily managed to grab the last one. We ordered a couple of beers and had a look over the menu before settling on a few dishes to share.
We ordered a Calzoncino Fritto filled with cicoli, ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella (£4.50), which was cracking. I love a calzone and this form was really cool, with a crispy coating and plenty of well balanced filling this is a great snack or side although I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want double pizza!
Other starters / sides that caught the eye were the Affettato Misto (£6.50) – cured parma, capocollo, finocchiona and the Campania Fries (£2.50) with garlic, rosemary and sea salt but we opted for the Caprese (£6.50) after seeing one come out of the open kitchen and we weren’t disappointed – the Caprese was superb… a bed of sweet tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil topped with a whole buffalo mozzarella. Full of simple but delicious flavours, this dish is pure Italian simplicity.
Our pizza of choice was the Diavola (£7.50) – tomato, spianata romana, fresh chilli, basil, mozzarella and parmesan which again was top drawer. We’ve since had a takeaway Margherita, which was also fantastic and as good as any takeaway pizza can be.
Lastly we had a lovely, cleansing Lemon Sorbet (£4.50), which was a massive 3 scoops and plenty to share between two but if you’re in a more indulgent mood then surely the Scugnizzielli Nutella (£5) – fried pizza doughnut strips with vanilla gelato is the dessert for you!
Images by Emma Gutteridge Photography.
There has been a fair amount of hype about Fatto a Mano this place since it opened and it seems absolutely rammed every time we walk past, no matter which evening it is so I’m very pleased it lived up to my expectations.
Fatto a Mano’s focus is on quality, affordability, authenticity and hospitality – Rupert has from the outset wanted to make Fatto a Mano a proper neighbourhood restaurant, with a great price point, consistently excellent food and a warm welcome and if that’s the brief, then Rupert has absolutely nailed it.
The layout, decor, atmosphere, pricing and food all come together to create the kind of place you want to come to regularly, get to know the staff, hang out and enjoy some simple but gorgeous Italian cooking.