Nice machine! One to consider if price is no object...
Positive Product Points
Built like a tank! E61 group and superb steam pressure.
I should point out that our unit is about 10 years old! So some of the comments below probably don't apply to newer models.
Negative Product Points
No water level or pressure gauges. I need to use a flashlight to check the water level and addition of water requires a funnel to avoid spilling water into the interior of the machine. Simple on/off steam control which limits control during milk frothing.
We got lucky - after saving our pennies for months and months we were just getting ready to purchase a Rancilio espresso maker. We'd owned low end pump espresso makers for years but still found that we preferred to go the the local cafe for decent coffee. So to take matters into our own hands we decided to purchase something decent.
At a local garage sale we spied a Salvatore Famosa espresso machine. It didn't look like it had been used much but it was clearly dated. From the general appearance I guessed that it was a late 80's/early 90's machine. We didn't know if it would work but decided that the gamble was worth it. Took it home, wiped it off, cleaned it up, and plugged it in. It worked! A phone call to Salvatore confirmed the machine to be a early 90's model.
In the last several months we've grown to really appreciate the quality of this machine. After working really hard with a sub-par grinder I've been able to get good shot-to-shot consistency. Wonderful crema and espresso quality that eclipses that from most of our local cafes quite easily.
Warm up in the morning is a 30 minute affair and I find that the first shots are much better if I flush the portafilter for 30 seconds or so. After being off for most of the day I think that it is likely that some bubbles form in the plumbing that are cleared out with a flush.
I'm happy - the machine was a great deal for us and will be the benchmark for our future purchases when this one reaches the end of it's life.
Well, it was purchased at a garage sale so I'd have to say that the buying experience was unusual. We had no idea if it would work or not when we got it home. However, it has turned out to be a winner and the folks at Salvatore Espresso have offered useful information over the phone and by mail.