An evening at Salvo’s

This post was originally published on The Culture Vulture blog.

“We’re in it to enjoy ourselves” declares Gip Dammone. To which his brother, John Dammone, immediately adds: “And be proud”. It’s been several days since I met the Dammone brothers at their restaurant, Salvo’s, but their words have lingered. Two simple but poignant declarations, they epitomised the very essence of what makes Leeds’ independent restaurants, like Salvo’s, so utterly fantastic.

Salvo’s is a Leeds legend. A small, family run restaurant in the student hub of Headingley, it’s spoken about throughout Leeds, and beyond, with utmost respect and reverence. We’re in an age where restaurants must fight harder than ever before for our business, where chefs need to inject even more passion and creativity into their dishes, where waiters and waitresses must wait even harder. Reputations can be built and lost by just one customer’s experience. But Salvo’s reputation never falters. After meeting its owners Gip and John, the sons of founder, Salvatore, it’s no surprise. Gip and John’s genuine passion, dedication and commitment to providing the very best experience for their loyal customers was truly inspiring. This doesn’t mean huge price tags or fussy plates reeking of ‘value added pretention’, as Gip ingeniously phrased it. No, it’s much simpler than that. Quality ingredients, a carefully thought-out menu, passion and pride. No more and no less.

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Falling in love with Florence

A deluge of people gather by a wall lining one of Florence’s many meandering alleys, sipping petite glasses of red wine and chatting animatedly in between bites of their paninos. No restaurant or café in sight, it was an intriguing scene. The beginnings of a strange food-based flash mob? Or the revelation of one of the very many reasons why Florence is foodie HEAVEN?

I’m pleased to say it was the latter. Cutting through the crowd, we discovered the source. In a hole in the wall barely a few feet deep, two vendors redefined the notion of ‘fast food’, freshly but frantically making paninos from a lengthy menu in a matter of seconds. Behind them towered a bookcase filled with Tuscan classics such as Chianti Classico, and Brunello di Montalcino. Size clearly does not matter a jot in Florence, with this tiny eatery boasting a wine and food menu that rivals 99.9999% of the options you would find in Britain.

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