I recently wrote about a trip to a new chain pizza restaurant at the Marina. This week I will be writing about a pizzeria in Hove. Some of you may feel that these two reviews are about the same thing, and perhaps they are on a very basic level, but they are in fact vastly different. This difference is what separates food designed for convenience from food created from passion and pride in its culture and history.
Fatto a Mano appeared in Brighton around a year ago. Their first restaurant in the up and coming London Road area immediately got the city talking about pizza. It is not because the existing restaurants were doing a bad job, although that depends on your point of view, it was mostly because Fatto a Mano were doing it better and with more authenticity.
The pizza was never intended to be an expensive dish. The simple marinara was created as food for Italian fishermen working out of the bay of Naples and utilised simple ingredients combined with enough carbs to fuel them for the day. Over the years these simple and honest principles got lost, and before you knew it a simple margherita pizza was costing around £10 for a fairly substandard offering.
Fatto a Mano brought traditional pizzas and traditional pricing to Brighton. This was not ground breaking and they weren’t the first to do it, but they did it well. Following the success of the initial restaurant, which saw them place in the top 20 Brighton restaurants, Fatto a Mano have opened a second branch in Hove. This move sees them taking on a larger premises in a very different area of the city in terms of demographic. I was invited along to give them a try in their new home along with a number of other local foodies and writers.
The new Fatto cuts an impressive image from the outside, occupying a large corner building near Palmeira Square. With a delightful outside area which was well used during the summer months it looks every bit the part for its locale. Inside the classy marble bar and tiled pizza oven are reminiscent of the first restaurant and give a pleasant feeling of familiarity.
The menu is along the same lines as the original with a daily specials board adding some variety. I opt for the traditional Caprese salad (£6.50) to start followed by a calzone carne (£9) as the main event. I Take a seat at the counter giving me the change to see the chefs at work; it also means I can also have a nose at everyone else’s choices, something that people like me enjoy a little too much.
Fatto a Mano is always a lively and vibrant restaurant experience. The staff constantly zip about taking orders and collecting dishes fresh from the oven as tables swiftly come and go. This lively atmosphere adds to the whole experience and is not as oppressive as it could feel in other venues.
The food is quick, as it should be, and I receive my starter after a short wait. It is an interesting take on the dish whereby a whole mozzarella ball tops chopped tomatoes with basil and olive oil. The classic flavours cannot be argued with and the dish is a light and fresh start to the meal. On the night of my visit they are also serving up some tronchetto with Brighton blue cheese that looks fantastic and I feel a little envious of.
I sip my beer and watch the chefs creating different pizzas and dishes with the highly pliable dough. The whole process is quite mesmerising and I also get to spot my calzone being made and watch eagerly as it is shovelled into the oven. Having open kitchens and allowing patrons to see chefs at work is a modern trend that the pizzeria did first, and still does the best job of as far as I am concerned.
My calzone, a folded and filled pizza, arrives and I cannot wait to get stuck in. Often with pizza the crust gets left but this is not the case here, lucky for me I already have curly hair. The soft pillow like dough is delicious on its own and once combined with the beautiful cheese and meat toppings it becomes a thing of joy. A great pizza is a simple thing that puts a smile on your face and this is what I get at Fatto a Mano.
I end my meal with a traditional affogato with a grappa on the side for an added kick. It’s a great way to finish a meal ticking the coffee, dessert and digestivo boxes all in one go. With a full belly and a spring in my step, probably from the grappa, I step out into the Hove evening feeling well fed and ready to face the rest of the evening.
- Address: 65-67 Church Road, Hove BN3 2BD
- Phone: 01273 325400
This review was first published in the Brighton and Hove Independent. I was invited to review and the food was complimentary, this did not influence my opinion of the food or restaurant.