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50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo Pizzeria London

  • Restaurants
  • Whitehall
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

London’s pizza pantheon is a sprawling beast. Ever since Franco Manca slung up the shutters in Brixton Market way back in 2008, the city has been awash in a post-Pizza Express wave of slow-rising sourdough, imported San Marzanos and lactic mozzarella. And while New York, Roman, Detroit, and Chicago styles abound, the Neapolitan pie still reigns.

50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo opened on Northumberland Avenue – the traffic-choked boulevard that runs between Trafalgar Square and Embankment – back in 2018. It’s the UK offshoot of a beloved Naples original: eponymous pizzaiolo Ciro Salvo is a Big Deal, and his forensic experiments in dough hydration (70% in his case) and fermentation have earned him a place in the Michelin guide and, recently, a top-three spot on the ‘50 Top Pizza Europe 2022’ [sic] list for 50 Kalò London, making it the UK's highest-ranked pizzeria. Time Out’s definitive run-downs aside, I take great issue with these kinds of lists. They’re parochial, male-centric, compiled from afar and, in this case, utterly incorrect. 50 Kalò is fine.

First, it’s an odd space. The vertiginously high ceilings and marble colonnades bely a compact floor plan, with checkerboard tiling, a looming dome of an oven at the back, and strongman-sized sacks of dough piled on the way to the loos. We had to wait 30 minutes for a seat, which seemed reasonable for a Friday night – but I’d recommend booking to avoid the tiny walk-in tables set aside for disorganised schmos like us.

The menu cuts a swift line through the kind of dinky fritti common to Campanian street corners, and on to a hefty selection of pizzas. The former were good. The ‘frittatina di bucatini’ was a burnished puck filled with pasta, bechamel, provola and pecorino cheeses, and ham: delicious elements only made more magisterial by being deep fried. Very fine, too, was the ‘montanara’ fried pizza bread, greaselessly crisp and slathered with a flavoursome tomato sauce and mouth-itching, 24-month aged parmesan.

But, alack, the pizzas themselves. A litmus-test margherita was workaday. What should have been a harmonious melding of puffed-up cornicione, ocean-deep umami from the toms, and creamy, textural mellowness from the cheese was comprehensively lacking. The ‘famously’ light crust was flat, bordering brittle; the sauce insipid, the cheese too abundant (and lord knows that’s not a criticism I ever thought I’d level at a pizza). A white pie topped with Fior Di Latte, inelegantly chunky fennel sausage, bitter friarielli broccoli, and decent EVO oil was better. But when your USP is world-beating dough, I felt bereaved. Neither is it cheap: that white pizza was £16, which is at the top end for London pizzas, let alone the famously reasonable Neapolitan variety.

I’m a militant advocate of the idea that even mediocre pizza is brilliant food. My disappointment was acute only as anticipation weighed so heavily. But in a city so genuinely brimming with wonderful parlours – Theo’s in Camberwell, Bona in Forest Hill, 081 in Peckham, Sodo in Walthamstow, et al – 50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo doesn’t quite slice it.

The vibe An emigré Neapolitan pizza place just off Trafalgar Square.

The food Fine fried morsels and an extensive menu of sourdough pies.

The drink Obligatory spritzes, pints of Peroni and a decent wine-list filled with esoteric Italian bottles.

Time Out tip Make sure you book – the walk-in seats are sadistically backless.

Written by
Tom Howells


7 Northumberland Avenue
Opening hours:
Open every day Time: 12.30 - 16.00 e 19.00 - 00.30
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