The 'official' announcement was made little over a month ago. Probably the biggest announcement in Naples enogastronomic history in a long long time. Expected and desired by many, myself included.
Pizzaolio Ciro Salvo would be opening his new pizzeria 50 Kalo' in Naples on the 13th of February.
Those outside of Napoli may not understand the excitement. So here's a little background in a nutshell. Salvo is from Portici, about 25 minutes from Naples. His family has been making some of the best Neapolitan pizza for three generations, ever since his grandmother opened up a small but respectable pizzeria in 1968. Salvo, 36 years old young, got the pizza making bug while working side by side with his dad in the family's business. It was in 1996 when Ciro decided to make this world his own. Since then, he has been working, researching, concentrating on making the best pizza ever; beginning with the pizza dough, obviously the products that he puts on top, as well as the wood burning oven that he puts his prized creations in. Those outside of Naples may have not noticed the vera Neapolitan pizza boom that has erupted not only in Campania, but throughout Italy. Top pizza makers, including Salvo have focused on quality, quality, quality. But Salvo? He has silently spent the past 3 years ish working in Torre Annuziata, but it was just a matter of time. After appearing on the cover of Gambero Rosso magazine back in July there was no turning back. Napoli wanted/needed him here. In their own backyard. In their own piazza.
My first visit to this sunny side of the street, though, wasn't only to taste a Salvo special. I must admit, that for the past couple of years, I, too, have been a pizza foodie, a pilgrim, so to speak, driving an hour ish to taste one of the top pizzas in Italia. (Now the drive would take 20 minutes or so, depending on traffic)
No, I was on a different type of mission.
Ciao, Maurizio! Auguri! I said as I greeted Maurizio Cortese. Cortese, at the door as he had been long before the pizzeria's opening serving as Salvo's consultant, confidant, friend. It was fitting that Cortese was at the door since he was responsible for organizing an event where I tried my 'first Salvo'. A simple marinara with top quality tomatoes, amazing oregano, and Salvo's soft as a cloud pizza dough.
Ciao Maurizio! I said, trying my hardest not to blurt out Where's Ciro??!!? I wanted to congratulate Salvo as well. I couldn't help but think back to an afternoon one summer in Portici with Salvo where he shared with me his background over an ice cream and a walk through his friend's organic vegetable garden
There was a long list of things that I wanted to do that afternoon. Check out the wine and beer list: A list full of Campania wines, many that I have visited in my vineyard hopping rounds; La Sibilla, Fattoria La Rivolta, Agnanum, Az. Alepa, Villa Matilde to name a few. Then the beer. An intense and enticing collection. (I asked Cortese for his advice since beer is not my strong point)
I wanted to check out the 50 Kalo's interior which I had only seen previously in photos...sleek, modern. An interior which could seat up to 80 customers, another 40 outside.
And since I was there, ok. Why not try a pizza. I took a seat next to the window. One strategically located where not only I could see the pulse of the piazza outside which connected Fuorigrotta to Mergellina, but with a perfect view of the banco where I could watch pizzas in action.
Pizzas such as the one I ordered - a favorite - 'nduja di spilinga. A pizza made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, fior di latte from Agerola, hot spicy 'nduja from Spilinga (Calabria, where they like it hot), fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil produced by Don Alfonso 1890.
Or my son's favorite, who, fever and all, wanted to try his Salvo favorite - la marinara - a true test of excellence. Once again, San Marzano tomatoes, this time paired with garlic, and I mean garlic, from Ufita, oregano from Mt Alburni, and Don Alfonso's extra virgin olive oil.
Yes, this trip had one last little mission. To enjoy my pizza seated at a table under a photo that I snapped of Ciro, one evening over a year ago, while he prepared a pizza for me.
Piazza Sannazzaro, 201/b Naples
081 192 04 667
Open for lunch and dinner (closed Tuesdays)
Reservations aren't accepted