Over the last three years I’ve discovered some great places to eat with my 3-year-old grandson Freddie. Following family tradition, he’s turning into a great gourmet and even likes to help with the cooking. He loves Italian food and has an addiction to olives! Given the proliferation of wonderful Italian restaurants, bakeries and delis in our local Richmond-Twickenham area in recent years, it’s really not surprising that he particularly likes Italian food and so Franco Manca seemed like a perfect destination for lunch on our outing to Richmond today.
Freddie had actually been there before with his parents but it was my first time at the Richmond Franco Manca, though I have eaten at others, including Bloomsbury and South Kensington. It’s housed, slightly quirkily, in the old Richmond Police Station in Red Lion Street and apparently you can take one of their monthly masterclasses in the old cells. Inside, it’s been done up wonderfully and is very attractive – you’d never guess its previous existence!
A waiter came quickly and gave me the kids’ menu – no need to ask for it, but then I guess an accompanying 3-year-old is a good guide! It’s a great menu. I read the choices to Freddie; he definitely likes to do his own choosing. Orange juice and the pizza with ham and cheese was what he wanted. Good choice, I told him. The ‘ham’ is actually Gloucester Old Spot ham, no cheap and ordinary stuff here; the tomatoes organic; the mozzarella of a buffalo variety made by an Italian brought over to Somerset from southern Italy by Franco Manca to make it for them. We were definitely talking sophisticated kids’ pizza here. I like that they think – know! – kids enjoy good food too.
On the other side of the kids’ menu was a picture to colour in; a special pen that broke into numerous different colours came too. Thus Freddie was nicely occupied while we waited for our pizzas. They took a little time to come because they are freshly made … I explained this to Freddie when he asked after about two minutes (kids’ style) if his pizza was coming … he obliging understood and didn’t complain. At the end of the meal I took him over to see the pizza oven and the pizzaiolo at work. His orange juice came quickly and that was pressed juice – not long life – so excellent quality.
Freddie’s ‘small’ pizza was almost the same size as mine – thus huge for a little one! He tucked straight in. He ate it in his own ‘3-year-old’ way: the ham first, then the cheese, then the dough …
Meanwhile, Nonna (Italian for grandmother and what he calls me) tucked into a pizza with Roasted Courgette, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Grana Padano and some extra tomato (San Marzano) because I like tomato with my pizza.
The pizza was wonderful and I had a small glass of rosé wine with it as I was feeling a little as if I was on holiday and lunch out with my grandson is a special occasion.
The kids’ menu included ice cream at the end and slightly surprisingly of the vanilla-chocolate-strawberry choice, Freddie told the waiter he wanted vanilla. It was excellent ice cream. I was offered a taste! I meanwhile had an espresso. ‘You’ve got coffee, Nonna,’ Freddie said. ‘Well they didn’t give me ice cream,’ I told him. ‘Maybe next time,’ he reassured me.
Freddie only managed to eat about half of his pizza so I asked if we could have a box to carry the rest home. They took the plate and came back with it nicely packaged up.
It was a lovely lunch and the kids’ menu is a great deal – only £5 for an excellent and good size pizza, good quality juice and great ice cream. I liked that it suited us both perfectly – I could have a good lunch and Freddie was very happy too. There are a number of Franco Manca’s all over London but they’re now spreading to locations in other parts of UK, so check them out at www.francomanca.co.uk
I’ve added a new ‘Where to Eat with Kids’ category to the blog – so look out for more posts on where to eat with your little ones!