If Salvo’s was a car, it would be a Range Rover. Not that I’ve ever owned one, but I have been in one.
And I’ve been in Salvo’s. And they’re both exceptionally nice. Sleek and good looking. Salvo’s, of course, has the added bonus that it’s nowhere near as expensive as a Range Rover but it is just as enjoyable.
It’s comfortable, has great visibility and when you’re in there (like a Range Rover), you kind of want other people to see you. Which is all well and good but Salvo’s has been around for a while - it turned 40 this year - and that normally means ‘mid-life crisis’.
Luckily, our Italian friend seems to have deftly sidestepped any notion of naffness and has kept with the times (as have Range Rovers - see, the analogy still holds).
For those who care to recall, Salvo’s used to be a rather small affair tucked away on the end of a clutch of shops at the junction of St Anne’s Road and Otley Road, as you head out beyond the Arndale Centre, Headingley, but a few years ago it expanded into next door, which means that when you walk in there today, there’s a grand sweep of dark wood floors and burnt red seating knitted together by a meander of exposed brickwork which divides up the dining area rather nicely.
We turned up just after 5pm and were warmly greeted by a man with a very large, well kept beard, who was exceedingly polite and whom showed us to our seats. After that, service was prompt, efficient and smiley.
I ordered a beer: Moretti, £6.45 for a pint and easily the most outrageously expensive thing on the menu. There were also two Diet Cokes (300ml) at £2.45 a pop. What was that I was saying about Range Rovers again...?
To eat, there was Crostini Misti (£5), a selection of small rounds of toast with hummus, salad, spicy salami and a black olive tepanade. Delicious. There was also a cheese and tomato pizza for £5.95 (yes, you guessed it, I was out with my children), chips (£3), a linguini bolognaise (£5.95) and a big old bowl of steamed mussels for me in a rich, fragrant tomato jus (£11), plus a green salad (£3) to tick the ‘eating healthy’ box.
It was all good. Piping hot, oozing character with an air of self confidence which was reassuring rather than grandstanding for the sake of it. The final bill (for three of us) came to £48.70 but £13.80 of that was just on the drinks, which if we’re honest (and we are, because nowadays we all shop at Aldi) are bloomin’ expensive (not just here, at any restaurant).
So, the next time you fancy a ride out for a bite to eat (go in the Range Rover if you have one) Salvo’s is as safe a bet as any. It’s just as characterful and twice as intelligent but if you’re on a tight budget, drink water.