It’s not an exaggeration when Sallio Bistro owner Larry Williams says the concept behind the Mediterranean restaurant fell at his feet.
Larry and his wife, Karen, had just chosen the name “Sallio,” which means salt in Latin, but they struggled to select the ideal menu. Mediterranean food was a new concept to the longtime co-owners of Amberjax Fish Market Grille, and they wanted to set themselves apart from local competition.
“We knew we were going to be that good neighborhood bistro — the salt of the earth — but we didn’t know what the hell we were cooking,” Karen says.
As Larry scoured the cooking section of Half Price Books for inspiration, one fell off the shelf, bounced off his head and opened at his feet. The book, coincidentally titled “Salt Block Cooking,” became the Williams’ inspiration for the family-owned
Much of Sallio Bistro’s cuisine is cooked with or served on Himalayan salt blocks. Because Himalayan salt has no moisture, its absorption rate is easily controlled. The process is both an experiment and an art form, and it’s one that led the Williams to contact “Salt Block Cooking” author Mark Bitterman to learn more.
“Cooking is one-third artistry and one-third chemistry,” Larry says. “I’m always balancing sodium, acids and fats.”
The Williams’ emphasis on experimentation is evident in the specials listed on
chalkboard panels lining one of the restaurant’s walls. The specials change twice daily, but customers’ favorites often become daily staples.
“I’ve learned in 40 years it’s not what I want,” Larry says. “It’s what they want.”
So when customers praised the watermelon salad, it transformed from a weekly special to a four-month mainstay. Made with tomatoes, watermelon and feta cheese on a salt block, it appeals to even those who don’t prefer watermelon, Larry says.
“They’re elegant, but they’re simple,” he says of the bistro’s dishes. “I try not to muddle the flavors. They are what they are.”
The Williams’ philosophy about food is something they’re instilling in their children, who all work in different capacities at the restaurant. As if it weren’t already a family business, their son-in-law Michael Hammonds also happens to be the chef.
“The end game is that our kids have a place to run, truly,” Larry says.
Ambiance: upscale, welcoming restaurant
Price range: $10-$35
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, 5-10 p.m.
Did you know: Sallio Bistro’s chefs are often given just two days and a set of ingredients to plan the menu specials, just like an episode of “Chopped.”
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