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Watch: Pittsburgh's Italian Chefs Cook Up an Amazing BBQ

The fire-cooked meal organized by Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino, included dishes prepared by chefs from Pittsburgh’s Italian restaurant community.


Farm dinners now are a ubiquitous part of the summer landscape. However, it wasn't long ago that they were a significantly less common occurrence. “I’d done a ton of them in California. At the time (2012) there weren’t a lot of farm events happening here,” says Justin Severino, executive chef and co-owner of Cure and Morcilla.

He found the right partner when befriended Nic DiCio, owner of Renya Foods in the Strip District. DiCio owned White Oak Farm in Allison Park, and he was looking to add more events to the property, which his family first farmed in the 1920s. “Nic and I totally hit it off, and I thought the space was amazing. We did a whole series of events at White Oak that summer,” Severino says.

Severino and partner Hilary Prescott Severino hosted celebrated out-of-town chefs such as Mike Solomonov, Charlie Parker and Steve Eckerd for farm dinners. The lasting legacy, however, was the Italian BBQ, an event that brought together chefs from Pittsburgh’s Italian restaurant community. Chefs Domenic Branduzzi (Piccolo Forno), Sam DiBattista (Vivo), Stephen Felder (Stagioni), Michele Savoia (Dish Osteria) and Joseph Tambellini (Joseph Tambellini Restaurant) for a celebration of their heritage. 

“We went into this to have fun, really. It’s a group of chefs who I was friends with and have a bunch in common with. That first Italian BBQ was my favorite day of that year,” Severino says.

Three more followed, and then last summer the Severinos took a year off to focus on running their two restaurants. This year, they decided to bring it back. The gang of chefs all returned (including a very relaxed Savoia, who recently returned from an extended vacation in Costa Rica) and Dave Anoia (DiAnoia’s Eatery) joined the crew.

Pittsburgh Magazine joined the fire-cooked meal that included hand-pulled stracciatella with roasted garlic, confit tuna with grilled escarole, lemon zest and Calabrian chili oil, smoked brisket, string-roasted octopus and pancetta sugo and polenta. The chefs’ wives — Prescott Severino, Catie Branduzzi, Aimee DiAndrea, Lori DiBattista, Cara DelSignore, Cindy Savoia and Melissa Tambellini — collaborated on a cookie table to finish the event.

Farm dinners have come a long way since the Severinos first organized the Italian BBQ six years ago. This is consistent: although they now are quite a few other enjoyable outdoor dinners, this remains one of my favorite events of the summer.

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Hal B. Klein is Pittsburgh Magazine’s associate editor and restaurant critic. He is an award-winning food and drinks writer. In his spare time, Hal can be found in his kitchen, in his garden and exploring the wonders of Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter (@HalBKlein) and Instagram (@halbklein).


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