For the love of family and food
Love for both family and food have proved to be the winning combination for Nelson business Salvito’s Pizza Bar. Nelson business Salvito’s Pizza Bar recently achieved an incredibly rare perfect score of 100 out of 100, five-star Google reviews. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that the business only opened in September 2020 and has had […]
Love for both family and food have proved to be the winning combination for Nelson business Salvito’s Pizza Bar.
Nelson business Salvito’s Pizza Bar recently achieved an incredibly rare perfect score of 100 out of 100, five-star Google reviews. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that the business only opened in September 2020 and has had to endure the incredible upheaval caused by Covid.
What makes the pizza bar even more special is the family team making and serving the pizza.
While many businesses rely on family to help out, Salvito’s Pizza Bar owner John Esposito put his two teenage sons at the very heart of the operation from the outset. Salvi (18) and Vito (16) own shares in the business and work alongside their dad. They have even given their names to the business with ‘Salvito’s’ a blend of their two names.
On any given day (school and university commitments allowing) the boys take full control of the pizza production and service to customers, while giving John some gentle ribbing in the process.
Salvi says, “over the University and school holidays we manage the Pizza Bar ourselves, giving dad a well needed break”.
“Our customers often find it unusual to see teenagers running the place, but we really enjoy it,” Vito chips in.
While you wait for your pizza the walls of the pizza bar take you on a trip through the Esposito family history in Nelson that began in 1890. Treasured enlarged photos from the family album and the written narrative that goes with them explain the family’s roots in Southern Italy, what compelled family members to emigrate to Nelson, and what they have done since arriving here – much of it revolving around growing beautiful produce.
John Esposito’s decision to set up a food business was a natural progression from the delicious pizzas he has been making for charity fundraisers for more than a decade (at school galas and for the local Italian Club that’s the focus of the Nelson Italian community).
Covid’s impact on the tourism businesses John’s involved in Christchurch and Hanmer Springs gave him the final push he needed to turn his passion for great pizza into an exciting family-run business.
“The opportunity to work alongside my boys before they head off to pursue their careers was too important to miss,” says John. “Covid-19 provided me with a window of opportunity. But I knew that if we were going to do it, we had to get it right. The ingredients had to be authentic.
“We took our time working with family to make sure the product was perfect and as good as we could make it – we wanted to make our family proud!”
Since opening its doors, Salvito’s Pizza Bar has established a dedicated fan base – hence the universally glowing Google reviews.
John says he gets a real kick out of seeing the reaction from first-time patrons, especially when they take their first bite and are genuinely surprised the pizza tastes so different. “They often say that it’s the best pizza they’ve had in New Zealand. That really makes all the effort and attention to detail worthwhile.”
Salvi points to a long list of personal touches that make their pizzas different, including blast freezing fresh basil in summer so it can be used in their special pizza sauce all year round.
A tough family experience
It hasn’t been a walk in the park for John and his boys, and John readily admits that running a food business is harder than he anticipated. But he’s really proud to be learning alongside his sons. Working in the business he’s been able to see the commitment and high standards that Salvi and Vito demonstrate when they’re working and engaging with customers.
“My job is to expose them to new challenges and pressure within the business, raising the bar gradually so they can more readily take on things that life throws at them. It’s a wonderful family experience for all of us.
“Our great-grandparents and the generations who have followed them have continued to bring the culture of Italy to the Nelson community. Now anyone who comes to Nelson can enjoy a really good pizza the way we enjoy it at home. We care about the food we’re making and the perfect score from our Google Reviews show us our customers can tell the difference.”
Salvito’s is a business that’s founded on love for family and the ties that bind family together.