Elements Contemporary Cuisine
Elements Contemporary Cuisine, located in downtown Pittsburgh, has the right ingredients for success, including meat, cheese and more.
Photo by Laura Petrilla
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In the past few months, we’ve seen a banner number of promising new restaurants open in the area. Among these is Elements Contemporary Cuisine, which premiered in late August with a very fine charcuterie offering wholesome, uncomplicated food, and a lively bar scene—all served in a sultry slate-blue and taupe environment.
Elements (with a stylized logo of earth, fire and water) occupies the space of the now-defunct Palomino in downtown’s Four Gateway Center, making it especially convenient for the after-work and pre-theater crowds. The space features tall ceilings, an open floor plan punctuated by large columns, floor-to-ceiling windows and a mix of booths and dark-wood tables—all redone in a moody palette of blues, grays and browns, resulting in an urbane, downtown vibe.
Elements was created by David Greenberg, a restaurateur from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He came to Pittsburgh because of the great opportunity here for new, interesting restaurants.
Committed to gathering a top-notch team, Greenberg hired Justin Severino as executive chef and partner, Michelle LaValle-Denk (former general manager of Eleven) as managing partner, and Ephraim Hill (former chef de cuisine of Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar) as executive sous chef. Also aboard at the new venture are Patrick McFarland, formerly of Tusca, and Leonard Paisano, formerly of Eleven.
Greenberg believes in playing up the team’s strengths: Severino, in addition to having cooking experience, has a special background when it comes to butchery and meat preparation, resulting in the restaurant’s unique offering of “meat, cheese and more.” After graduating from the former Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts (now Le Cordon Bleu) here in Pittsburgh, Severino worked at a number of highly esteemed California restaurants, including Marinus at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant in Big Sur and Manresa in Los Gatos (under executive chef David Kinch).
While cooking at these prestigious places, Severino developed a special interest in using whole local animals. “I have a respect for the farmer and the creature—that means I want to use the whole animal and have no waste,” he says. This led him to become deeply involved in charcuterie, the French term for meat products such as sausage, cured meats, pâté and terrines. Eventually, he opened Severino’s Community Butcher in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he became a very successful purveyor of pork products to farmers markets and restaurants.