Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha
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To cut a long story short, the pizza I had at Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha is one of the best I've ever tried in all of Barcelona.
To elaborate, when the bacon pizza – with no tomato sauce – arrived at my table, the scent of grilled streaky bacon mixed with top-notch mozzarella hit me right in the face. The first bite surpassed all of my expectations: the base is neither the crunchy onion skin you get from a Roman pizza nor anything like the chewy kind you get from a Neapolitan pizza that fills your stomach with dread and gas. The oft-underrated crust is higher than it is wide, full of crunchy nooks and crannies – a sure sign of a good base and fermentation process. It's like eating the best bread you've ever had. Which makes sense when Venetian co-owner Max Colombo explains that 'this is a concept of fusion between Bar Brutal and Can Pizza', the pizzeria he co-owns in Prat along with his brother Stefano (also co-owners of Frankie Gallo Cha Cha Cha and Xemei); other co-owners of Frankie Gallo are José María Parrado (of Martínez) and pizza expert Lorenzo Vuoturni.
Colombo describes the virtues of this 'tocino' bacon to me: 'We cure it ourselves in a wood-burning oven on a tray, and that's where the pizza is cooked too.' And he goes on about the base as well: 'We have a workshop where we can do tests. The base is made with stone-ground organic flour, and we work with sourdough, which accelerates the fermentation process, and hydrolysis. The fermentation process never stops: when it's ready, we turn it. It's complicated.' These days everyone wants to be an expert in Chinese bacteria, and really, what is pizza if not cooking with fermented products? Colombo says they did indeed set out to find a balance between a Roman and a Neapolitan base.
In a part of the world where they've committed Italian atrocities in the name of pizza (and Catalan atrocities – in Roses there's a place that charges €15 for a duck pizza saying it's 'creative cuisine on a crust'), Frankie is a saving grace. The place itself is reminiscent of restaurant-clubs from the early 2000s – gigantic, industrial, with touches of an Asian brothel out of a John Carpenter film, and plenty of private booths. At the back, two ovens with flames burning seem to be waiting to swallow up Indiana Jones. It's impressive, and this is where you think you'll be forking out loads of pocket money to help them pay for it all. But you won't.
The average bill is about €20 to €25, and, according to Colombo, 'We're not messing around, we put a lot of ingredients in and toppings on – it's about 250 grams of base alone. The Cotto Funghi – ham, mozzarella and mushrooms – is just €9.50, and the most expensive, the Brutal (scamorza, mozzarella, burrata, smoked salmon and mullet) will set you back €19.50. 'This is a place that we want young people as well as locals in the neighbourhood to be able to enjoy,' says Colombo.
The menu, which boasts some 20 different pizzas, is divided into classic pizzas, red pizzas (no cheese), white pizzas (no tomato sauce) and special pizzas. And, by the way, another that looked extremely tempting was the Paki Raval, a focaccia base with lamb confit, crème fraiche and mint.
The connection with Bar Brutal stems from the fact that the best possible product is used to make the starters – try the seasonal tomato salad – and in the pizza toppings, as well as the craft beer and natural wine menus.
And what in the world is the origin of the restaurant's name? It's the result of a drunken night Colombo and Parrado spent in Little Italy, and their affinity for mafia films, boxing and violent video games.
Marquès de Barberà, 15
|Transport:||Liceu (M: L3)|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 7pm-2am; Fri, Sat 1pm-3m; Sun 1pm-1.30pm|