Blink and you’d miss Salvia. Tucked away in a more industrial than gastronomic part of Mirfield, this modest little Italian doesn’t shout about itself.
Many customers go flying past on the busy A644 Huddersfield Road and have to ring to be guided in.
Leave your sat-nav at home and head for Mirfield. It’s just past a hand car wash, behind Ruby’s Lounge and a couple of doors to the left of Calder Vets. Simple.
If you still can't find Salvia then ring them. You won't be the last.
Getting to Salvia's was no problem for me. I've eaten there several times though I’m by no means a regular.
It has a reputation as Mirfield’s best-kept secret – and not just because of its location.
It is a place for special celebrations, which Italian restaurants do better than anyone.
I had two 40th birthday parties in two very different Italians but that’s another story. Remind me to tell you about them some time.
Anyway back to Salvia. Plenty of parking space outside when the neighbouring shops and businesses are shut and a warm welcome from the relaxed and smiling staff.
My companion and I were early, since my companion only lives across the road, but we had to run for it as a downpour threatened.
Our table for two in the far corner wasn’t quite ready but by the time I’d wiped the raindrops off my glasses we were ushered to our seats.
We were greeted by manager Marco Verchelli and ordered a bottle of the house red Normanna (£13.50) and were left to browse the menu.
The place was busy and they were preparing a long table next to us for a 50th birthday.
Looking around, Salvia is only small. Snug is the word.
At one side there is an open frontage into the kitchen where you can watch the chef and his staff at work.
On the opposite wall a full-length mirror offers the illusion of a much bigger restaurant, and is a great fascination for people-watchers.
Without the mirror there is no doubt Salvia’s would be a little claustrophobic.
My companion loves ribs, any time any place, but was disappointed when Marco told us ribs was the only dish not available on the night.
I decided to start with a simple Insalata Caprese (£5.80), a baby mozzarella with tomatoes doused in basil oil. The tomatoes were red and fully ripe and this was a palate-cleansing starter, accompanied by crusty, fresh bread.
My companion chose Fungi All'Aglio (£5.80) – mushrooms cooked in a creamy garlic sauce – and would have preferred more bite from the garlic.
Onto the main course and for me it had to be steak as I had good memories from previous visits.
I chose something I hadn't had before Fileto Rossini, fillet steak cooked in Salvia’s own house pate, red wine and cream (£17.50).
There was the choice of French fries, salad or vegetables.
I opted for the fries but was surprised that vegetables weren’t included in the price.
The steak was modest in size but cooked just as I’d asked: tender and smooth.
The sauce, however, was a little bland and the presentation of the plate – just the steak and the (brown) sauce with no garnish – needed more imagination.
My companion’s Tagliatelle Gamberoni (£9.10), king prawns cooked in Napoli sauce, cream, spinach and pesto sauce, left her more than satisfied.
With bellies filling up there is always a debate about the merits of a dessert. And usually the dessert wins.
I always like to finish a big meal with something lighter so an affogato (£3.90), cold hot chocolate with vanilla ice cream, was the perfect end to the meal.
My companion chose the homemade tiramisu (£3.90) and loved every last mouthful.
We rounded off the night – on a busy Saturday for the waiting staff and kitchen – with a couple of Baileys coffees, which went down all too easily.
VERDICT: A bit pricey. A little restaurant with a big reputation to live up to.
Unit 2, 159 Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, WF14 9DQ
Tel: 01924 493344
Opening hours: Every day except Monday from 5.30pm with last orders at 10.30pm. Happy hour 5.30pm-6.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Disabled: Ring for advice
The bill: £67.50 for two including wine and liqueur coffees
Would you go back? Yes