The original pizzeria of this name opened in Naples in February 2014, though its owner Ciro Salvo is a third generation piazzola of a family-run pizzeria near Naples. “50 Kalo” means “good dough” in a local dialect. Here the emphasis is on high hydration and low protein flours. In Naples the olive oil is sourced from two Michelin star Don Alfonso 1890, who have their own farm opposite Capri, so ingredient sourcing is taken seriously.
The London version opened in July 2018 and is just off Trafalgar Square, in a hotel called the Grand but with its own dedicated entrance from the street. The restaurant has a proper wood-fired oven, whose temperature when cooking the pizzas is in the 480-500C range, cooking the pizzas in just over a minute, according to the staff that I spoke to. The menu has the classic margherita but also a range of alternatives, and I tried the diavola. The base was excellent, soft and chewy, with some leopard spot charring on the edge of the crust from the hot oven. The toppings seemed unremarkable, and the salami was barely spicy, but the base really delivered.
Coffee was from a Naples company called Kimbo that has been running for over fifty years, and the espresso was decent enough. The bill came to £20 for the pizza, mineral water and coffee. Of course you would pay more if you had a starter and dessert and some beer. Overall this was a very good pizza, though I am unconvinced that it is any better than, say, l’Oro di Napoli. Still, it is a sign of how much things that moved on that we are now debating the merits of top-notch Neapolitan pizzas in London – I can remember when Pizza Express seemed a real advance on incumbent Pizza Hut.