I find that once September is over I usually walk around shivering and being pretty grumpy. The sun’s heat abandoning us for the coming six months is really quite a sad prospect for most of us, especially when walking home means pulling your hood up and praying that rain doesn’t infiltrate our soon-to-be-sodden footwear. On a Monday evening during the beginning of this seasonal change, I did exactly that – left the office with a colleague into the pouring rain readying myself for the inevitable blocks of ice my extremities turn into in the cold. Fortunately for us, we’re just around the corner from Fatto A Mano, one of Brighton’s newest and most vibrant pizza places, so we dash in to the warmth to try out the hottest new menu on London Road.
Having spent her summer gallivanting around Europe, my colleague reminisces about how she sat on balconies looking out over Italy sipping on cocktails. I feel my jealous mind start wondering until she says that the ambience of the restaurant ‘takes [her] back’ to those sunny afternoons and I realise we really have stumbled upon a special establishment. From the sleek varnished wood, to the blue and white theme, it feels like we’ve been transported to southern Europe.
Snapping out of my wintery grump, I scan the menu for a delicious and refreshing beverage. I stop when I see the Hugo (£5), consisting of elderflower liqueur, Prosecco, soda, mint and lime. This is the perfect drink for our pretend summer’s evening as the ingredients are fresh and the flavours well balanced. My colleague opts for an Aperol Spritz (£5), classically made with Aperol, Prosecco and soda. To keep us going while we navigate the delectable menu, we try out the Olive Puliesi (£3) – olives from Puglia – but served with olive oil to accentuate the fresh and juicy flavours. The vibrant green starter we share puts us in a great stead to enjoy the coming pizzas.
My colleague opts for the traditional Margherita (£6), made up of tomato, basil, mozzarella and Parmesan while I go for the Capricciosa (£8.50). The latter is considerably more decadent, comprised of tomato, ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, salami, basil and mozzarella. The name ‘Fatto A Mano’ translates to ‘handmade’, which is very evident from the quality of our pizzas. The combination of these ingredients makes for a fantastic and well received meal. The bases of the pizzas are doughy and soft, a nod to their freshness as many places can end up making the base a little bit too tough for my taste. The Naples-inspired bases are the perfect in-between of your average thin and crispy and the American-style pizza pies. Fired up at 450 degrees, the chefs let the pizzas get a scorching kiss from their authentic oven, bringing the crust up to a decent size and perfect consistency. Also available are specials and ‘white pizzas’ which have a range of different toppings, all without the San Marzano tomato base that blankets the ‘red pizza’ options.
After gorging ourselves with beautiful Italian delicacies, hidden away from the relentless rain hammering down outside, we spot a rather indulgent dessert called Scugnizzielli Nutella. At £5, these Nutella-drenched fried pizza doughnut strips are dusted with sugar and accompanied by a generous scoop of vanilla gelato. We share the last dish of the evening as we’re both quite full by this point but manage to polish off the sweet treat. I wash mine down with a glass of Sicilian white wine, Grillo Fondo Antico, with fruity notes of peaches at just £4 per glass to help all of the wonderfully prepared dishes go down. As we sit and admire the tasteful interior of Fatto A Mano, we realise our two-hour holiday is over, setting off back into the downpour and attempting to bat off our instant holiday blues.
Fatto A Mano, 77 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4JF
By Freya Hughes