Upon initial inspection, Salvos appears to be a friendly, family-owned, slightly classy Italian restaurant at the side of a busy road. This is just a cover. The truth is, Salvos was born to the sounds of thunder in a cobwebbed laboratory by some balding genius who had eaten too much Parmesan cheese before bed. It is a creation, not a business, designed to crush, destroy and laugh-at all the other “italian” restaurants in Headingley and if it had ears, there would be two bloody big bolts behind them.
It's fancy, it's friendly and it knows it.
Salvos caters to two groups of Headingley diners; people who like cricket and the parents of middle-class-white-students (or is that just one group?). A warning I wish I'd received before my first visit: this is not an eatery reserved for “sugar-daddies”, those are their daughters. The service was experienced, efficient and convivial in all the right ratios, testament again to the genius of the Salvos “creator”. The food, however, lacked the ‘spark’ that was felt elsewhere. It was as though, on that stormy night, when Dr. Salvo-stein watched the bolt of life-giving electricity pulse through the building, it didn't quite reach the kitchen.
My aubergine with Ricotta and rocket was nicely smokey, but a little cold and was SCREAMING for a balsamic reduction or a citrus-y dressing to kick it up the bum. My main of traditional pesto spaghetti with pan fried greens was not-so-traditional and, instead, came with pan fried cream. A fellow diner's whitefish chowder tasted good, but looked a little like one of those Sunday morning, Baileys coloured puddles outside “Tequila” or “Tiger Tiger”. I'm exaggerating, but honestly, if I were to go again, I'd just ask for a basket of the amazing complimentary foccacia (from the Salumeria?) and a bucket of oil and vinegar.
Alas, it seems we have learned nothing from those gothic tales of artificial creation; we should know not to ask too much from a beast which has been built in a lab. Perfection is more easily stumbled upon than manufactured.