There’s much to like about Salvi’s Cucina on John Dalton Street (unlike their other place at the Corn Exchange where there the space is cramped and the food indifferent). There’s good cooking here and very generous portions. That said, not for the first time, we had minor issues with service. Like the guy not writing down our order, so had to come back and check. Like the guy who brought the starters, asking who was having the meatballs – I said “Me”, my wife pointed to me – so he served them to my wife. Like the second glass of wine which got forgotten and didn’t arrive until after we’d finished eating. It wasn’t wanted then, of course, even when they offered to comp it. Errors can happen in any restaurant but, more importantly, it’s how they deal with it. In this case, by comping dessert and coffee (an impressive way of apologising to my mind). So, whinges over, let’s get to the food.
Those meatballs were great. Three big ones, much bigger than golf balls – and really tasty, in a thick tomato based sauce. The other starter is on the menu as “Aperitivo- mixed nibbles” – a wooden board filled with salamis, olives, grilled aubergine, salad, etc and some toast. And it’s a generous portion, too – the sort of plate you’d be very happy being served for a summer lunch, sitting outside sipping a glass of something cold, watching the Mediterranean.
The restaurant draws on its Sicilian roots and, as such, makes a big thing about their pizzas. Italian tomatoes, fior di latte cheese (a version of the more common mozzarella), hand stretched dough baked quickly at 400 degrees, etc. The “quattro stagione” looked as good as it tasted. A thick, but very light, crust; good sauce, the cheese and just the right amount of toppings – mushrooms, artichoke, olives and salami – so they didn’t overpower the taste of the base.
And the pasta dish that was the other main course was also none too shabby. The sauce was, as you’d expect, based on tomato and incorporated chunks of swordfish and aubergine, together with a scattering of pine nuts and a few bits of mozzarella. It was, indeed, a very lovely sauce. Rigatoni (?) was the excellent choice of the perfect “al dente” pasta, holding the chunky sauce well.
Dessert, as mentioned, was comped but it was always going to be ordered. And there’s never really been a need to look further than the Sicilian classic of cannoli. A deep fried pastry tube, served cold and stuffed with sweetened ricotta. They give you a knife and fork to eat it with but I bet there are few who use them – it’s perfect for just picking up and taking a big bite out of.
So, service niggles aside, we’d had a lovely dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our evening.