It's a Leeds institution. The doors have been open for 40 years and are still getting tables filled on a daily basis. You can't get a better advert than that.
The secret to Salvo's success is nothing ground breaking. It's all about good food, sticking to what they know and that personal touch as soon as you walk through the door.
Evening service begins at 6pm through the week. I walked through the door just as they'd opened, greeted by John - one of Salvatore Dammone's sons who has continued the family business. Let's get into one of a limited few great Italians in Leeds.
Salvo's is known for its Italian flare and whilst you can get the favourites you'll know, they have been praised for their innovative approach to traditional cooking. John and his brother Gip took us through some of the new appearances on the menu.
We began with one of their classics - the Pate della Casa, chicken liver pate on sourdough - a staple of the menu for 40 years and something the regulars are still requesting. This is one of my favourite dishes on any menu and the Salvo's serve didn't disappoint.
The team served up some more of their small plates; a Salerno home time favourite, the arancini, served with a delicious truffle aioli; Insalata di polo, charred octopus and aubergine with crisp bread, I didn't love the octopus and aubergine together on this one; and the bruschetta miste, honestly, I don't think any bruschetta could ever fail me, the smashed white bean on this one brought something a little different with a subtle wave of heat from the nduja.
Inbetween the courses, we got an education in the creation of each of the dishes and how Salvo's keeps up with their modern competitors. Regular research trips back to Italy are essential - the dream! - and ensuring the best quality of produce is fronted in all their dishes is a value they will forever uphold. They shared their secrets of getting the balance right between high quality products without needing to up the cost of the dishes across their menu and let's just say, the mix of all their inner secrets combined, is working.
My pick of the mains has to be the penne piccanti - not something I'd normally choose, a pasta with sausage meat and nduja ragu, coated in creamy mascarpone. It was insanely moreish and although it was a group serve, I like to think I contributed to polishing most of the plate off - so delicious, there isn't even a photo. Proof enough from a food blogger ;)
And another unexpected favourite, the nassello - roast hake and purple potato ravioli with a sundried tomato and red pepper butter. The fish was so-so, a great serve but fish will rarely be my favourite. The butter that coated each piece was delicious though, something I'd never choose of a menu, but another that surprised me with tastiness.
The pizzas - unsurprisingly - didn't disappoint. The classic margherita was my favourite (and let's face it, always will be), served on "flame blistered crust, with a soft centre", how dreamy does that sound? Should I ever get to Italy, I shouldn't leave disappointed as the classic is the standard serve there, no toppings required. Perfetto!
You might have noticed that desserts typically don't grace North of London that often, or if they do, it's as an after thought and sheer gluttony that I indulge. We of course were treated to a couple of the favourites to finish off the evening and let's just say, I will happily go back purely for the finale of the night.
I introduce you to, the officially titled chilled apple crumble creme brulee - or what's in my mind named Crumbrulee. Absolutely heavenly. Truth be told, I'm not a massive fan of apple crumble, but that course topping topping a creamy brulee is perfect. No matter how full you are of the classically carb filled Italian menu you've already consumed, make sure you save some room to try this should you visit Salvo's.
True to Italian culture, we finished off the evening with espressos in the bar - spiked with sambuca, not my personal choice - with Gip leading conversation well into the night.
Leeds locals will no doubt know this place - although I hope you have a few new dishes on your agenda to try. If you're not local to Headingly or have still yet to try Salvo's, I highly recommend. The food is true family comfort eating without going into stodgy territory, but the personal service is what keeps people returning and what you'll get to know should you keep going back. Get this place on your to-try list.