SALVI’S is a bijou local empire of all things Italian with a restaurant/deli/mozzarella bar in the Corn Exchange and a cosy cafe called Cucina in John Dalton Street. Owners Maurizio and Claire Cecco have also found time to launch the hugely successful Festa Italia every summer in Cathedral Gardens.
Now comes the final piece in their Naples-inspired culinary jigsaw – Salvi’s Pizzeria Napoletana, in the ‘annexe’ two doors down from Cucina. Popping in to road test a slice or two turned into a total carbfest for ToM. Mainly because the eight-strong roster of classic pizzas (all a tenner, no pepperoni or pineapple allowed on the premises) is supplemented by the fried street treats of Old Naples.
Crochette ripieni (£8.50 each) are large potato croquettes that come packed with a variety of traditional Italian flavours. We’d recommend the smoked mozzarella and Italian ham. More smoked mozzarella figured in one of two calzone frittos (£12) we tried as did spicy nduja and that glorious wild broccoli friarelli in the one called Spaccanopoli in homage to the narrow main drag that spans Naples’ historic centre.
Somehow room was left for a classic Margherita – flor di latte mozzarella, san marzano tomatoes, basil. Vividest of flavours, yes, but it was the dough that sang so ethereally in a way that it rarely does, well, more than 100 metres from Spaccanopoli despite the current world glut of hipster-owned wood-fired ovens.
Salvi’s, imported from Italy, is an electric model, so struggles to attain the 500 degrees plus temperatures of its wood-fired cousins. Hence the dough is proved for an incredible 72 hours, created from the classic Caputo 00 flour.
Salvi’s young pizza master Manuel (above) used to work for that benchmark flour company. He’s from Rome, but his pizza skills are the equal of any Neapolitan. It was a small masterclass, watching him pry open the dough to show the air bubbles that make it so light, yet tensile not crisp. So are we talking up Salvi’s as a rival for Rudy’s or Honest Crust. Let’s just say it might just be a triumph for Manuel dexterity!
Salvi’s Pizzeria Napoletana, John Dalton Street, two doors down from Cucina at No. Open Mon-Sat 10am-11pm; Sun 11am-10pm.