How Salvo's in Headingley stood the test of time as we launch Oliver Awards 2020

It is as regular a feature at the Yorkshire Evening Post's Oliver Awards as the champagne, but then Salvo’s has been on the Leeds food and drink scene longer than the awards themselves.

Sunday, 27th October 2019, 4:00 pm
Picking up the Outstanding Contribution Award at this year's Olivers are, winners John and Gip Dammone from Salvo's.

The Italian restaurant, which has been in business for 44 years and is firmly in the hearts as well as the stomachs of Leeds foodies, won the ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award at the last ceremony.

As we launch The Olivers for 2020, John Dammone tells the Yorkshire Evening Post what winning that award meant to the family.

He said: “We were honoured to win the outstanding contribution award and really, it made me reflect on the amount of times that we have been visited by Oliver. I have kept all our reviews and that is quite interesting because we are in our 44th year.

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The food which made them famous - Salvo's has been feeding Leeds for 40 years.

“We have been visited many a time and it is really nice from our point of view to acknowledge not only the longevity but that fact that we have remained at the forefront of innovation in Leeds. It is a very vibrant and exciting city and a destination for food and with that as a backdrop to us winning the award, that is phenomenal for us.”

Sharing the key to success in a city food and drink scene that has really taken off in the last five years, Mr Dammone said there is a balance between moving forward but sticking to the family values that the business was founded upon back in 1976 by Mr Dammone’s father, Salvatore.

He said he and his brother, Gip, often muse about how they have stood the test of time and which, if any, restaurant can say they have been successfully trading from the same site for the same amount of time.

Salvo’s is still on Otley Road in Headingley and now boasts The Salumeria, which is a cafe and delicatessen during the day.

The Headingley restaurant says key to its success is changing with the times but sticking to traditional Italian values.

He said: “There is no such thing as resting on your laurels. As a business we are always looking to keep moving with the times. I feel that what may have been relevant two years ago is not relevant now.

“We are seeing third generation customers. We used to see them with their parents as little kids, now they are a certain age coming in with their partners and that is something that is quite unique.

“We stick to the things that my late father said, ‘there are certain things that never change’. While innovation is really important, stick to the core values of Italian food - great quality ingredients and great value.”

2020 Awards

One of the best ways to lend your support to the local dining scene – apart from booking a table of course – is to vote in the YEP Oliver Awards.

All the nominations will be revealed in November before our judges whittle them down to a shortlist in January.

The winners will be announced at a black tie event at Elland Road in March.


Categories for the 2020 YEP Oliver Awards include:

Best Family Friendly

Best Local Produce

Best Brunch (instead of lunch)

Best Speciality Vegan/Vegetarian/Seafood


Best Cafe/Deli

Best Gastro Pub and Brewery

Best Bar

Best World

Best Fine Dining Experience

Best Newcomer

Best Customer Service

The People’s Choice

Chef of the Year

Outstanding contribution

Overall Restaurant of the Year