Salerno Pizza, Edinburgh


Salerno Pizza

405 - 407 St James Crescent, Edinburgh EH1 3AE

0333 011 5381

Salerno Dough

The Bill

Pizzas  £8.35 - £14.65 | Sides £3.75 - £8.50

Desserts £3.75 - £6.95

The Score

Cooking 5/10 | Service 3.5/5

Flavour 4/5 | Value 4/5

TOTAL 16.5/25

Dolly the Sheep was created just outside Edinburgh. The original cell was taken from a mammary gland, hence the name. (Work it out for yourself.) Make no mistake, when we discuss Salerno Pizza and its sister Ragù Pasta you are looking at a 21st century attempt to clone.

Sorry PRG, I really have nothing against you, and the fact that I ate in two of your places in the same week is truly a coincidence. The fact that both reviews are mediocre, on the other hand, is very much down to you. Given the recent restaurant news from Glasgow, that soon may be a lesser concern for you.

Look at the address and you could be forgiven for asking, where on earth? It's on the upper level of the St James Quarter, one of the first proper establishments as opposed to the Bonnie & Wild food market  space, where they give you a buzzer to await the overpriced fare. You traipse up to collect it yourself, and they look at you strangely if you don't offer them a tip.

No such problems here, where the service is pleasant without being five star. If you read last column about Ragù Pasta which is owned by the same group as Salerno, you'll understand my theme. Effectively the PRG folk are trying to replicate the phenomenal success of Paesano and Sugo Pasta in Glasgow. How phenomenal? Read on.

Comparisons may be odious - I find superlatives to be much much better - but if you try to do a carbon copy they are inevitable. A little difficult here, I suppose. A midweek lunch service is rather different to a Friday evening. That's another justification for my refusing to have ambience as one of my scoring criteria.

It's all about the dough. Their strapline, not mine. On the website and also in neon letters on the wall. The same wall also proclaims Ain't No Pineapple. Am I bothered that they prove their sourdough bases for 24 hours as opposed to the 48 which they get at Paesano? Not only is the answer no, I'm not at all sure I could tell the difference. The proof of the pizza, after all, is in the eating.

There are (sort of) 13 options. Extra toppings range from £0.99 (garlic) to £4.15 (bufflo mozzarella). This is where it starts to get a liitle odd. The reason I used the phrase sort of is that there are three variations on a classic Margarita. The first, with no cheese, costs £8.35: the second, with mozzarella, is £9.75. A separate mozzarella topping is £3.10. Buffalo mozzarella sets you back £4.15. Fancy a Margarita with the latter? Order a cheese free on with buffalo as an extra. That'll cost you £12.50 as opposed to the menu price of £12.90. Who needs Martin Lewis when you can read Tom Eats!?

I meant to say that there is a special on offer. I would say daily special, but the very crumpled appearance of the menu suggests it's been on for a while. We go for a couple of standards, involving (not all on the same base) anchovies, olives, capers, spicy salami. You know the sort of thing. They arrive with bewildering speed - that's what happens with a 500˚C oven - but I'd have preferred an extra 30 second wait and a crispier pizza.

The verdict? Perfectly nice but nothing to write home to Naples about. And, whisper it, not nearly as good as Paesano.

Now, you're asking why Salerno has a graver concern. (I alluded to this in paragraph 2 in case your brain is still reeling from the election results.) Well, the two Paesano places and Sugo Pasta have just been sold to the company behind DiMaggio's for a reported eight figure sum. For the innumerate/lawyers out there that's a minimum of of ten million quid! For three restaurants!! As the website here says, it's all about the dough. And what are the odds against there soon being a Sugo and a Paesano in every major city in the country? Buck up Salerno.


Next week, Tom's Food! will be taken up with wild celebrations. Back in a fortnight.

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