2011 Delicious Design: Salt of the Earth

What became one of the most highly anticipated openings the Pittsburgh region has seen in years, Salt of the Earth—which looks and feels as if it were plopped onto Penn Avenue straight from a NYC side street—turned out to be well worth the wait.

salt of the earth

Casual-upscale Salt of the Earth is a transparent
space without hidden prep rooms or blocking walls
so that guests can see the chefs and staff at all
times.

Photo by Laura Petrilla   

In the months leading up to the Salt of the Earth’s opening, chef and co-owner Kevin Sousa’s dedicated following became encompassed by his blog (saltpgh.com/blog) and Twitter feed (@saltpgh) of constant updates as he memorably revealed first glimpses of the restaurant’s hand-crafted wooden furnishings, stainless-steel kitchen appliances and Ikea dishware.

When entering the space today, it’s not difficult to imagine the Penn Avenue location as the city’s first Harley Davidson dealership during the 1920s. The building’s original integrity is present in its sweeping window arches and brick texture that are present throughout the restaurant—and that Harley vibe is somewhat present in the ink-covered arms of the staff.

Most recently, the space was a home interiors store before Doug and Liza Cruze, of Cruze Architects in the East End and now also the restaurant’s co-owners, purchased it in 2007.

“I met Doug and Liza Cruze at an event, and they approached me and said, ‘We want to do a restaurant … something cool … and we want to be involved in the build-out,” Sousa says. “They said [to me], ‘Tell us your vision.’”

The trio designed and built casual-upscale Salt of the Earth as a transparent space without hidden prep rooms or blocking walls so that guests can see the chefs and staff at all times. Sousa’s wish list—which eventually was granted—consisted of three basic items: communal tables, an open kitchen and a chalkboard menu.

The downstairs dining area features six rows of communal wooden tables—sectioned together by the pair—that are flanked by stools that easily combine to form benches. The sleek, minimalistic designs were created and crafted by Jim Ladner, of Pittsburgh, and are lit by modern, hanging spotlights. Other lively seating options include a laid-back, six-seater bar and an eight-seater bar overlooking the open kitchen.

The interior furnishings blend a range of earthy elements, hues and textures: wood, granite, glass, aluminum and chalk. One of the most functional design elements is the floor-to-ceiling wall chalkboard that displays the day’s starters, mains and desserts, as well as the wine and beer selection.

Upstairs, mezzanine seating wraps one-half of the perimeter of the main dining area and provides quieter, more intimate seating that overlooks the action on the floor below. But perhaps the most stunning features are the restaurant’s massive front-facing windows that make the space feel as if it spills onto bustling Penn Avenue.

“[The Cruzes] channeled everything I had in mind and created the most beautiful restaurant I could ever imagine,” Sousa says.
 


Salt of the Earth, chef/owner Kevin Sousa; architects/owners Doug and Liza Cruze; 5523 Penn Ave., Garfield. Info: 412/441-7258, saltpgh.com.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Restaurants 2017

Best Restaurants 2017

This year Pittsburgh Magazine's independent Restaurant Review Panel recognizes 34 establishments as our regions's top restaurants. Our list includes All Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out, Best Budget and Classic Comfort establishments.
Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller’s portfolio includes overseeing five specialty restaurants — Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Soba, umi and Kaya — as well as 14 fast-casual Mad Mex restaurants and a full-service catering operation. Even in an increasingly competitive environment, his restaurants remain in-demand and relevant.
Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Apteka, operated by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, is a vegan eatery that draws on Lasky’s sixth-generation Pittsburgh roots and Skowronski’s Polish heritage.
Can the Restoration of a Church Lead to the Revival of a Town?

Can the Restoration of a Church Lead to the Revival of a Town?

A small group of dedicated residents sees the restoration of their church in Tarentum as a window to the potential rebirth of their once-booming community in suburban Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Radio-Synced Highlights of Pens 7-0 Win in Game 5

Watch: Radio-Synced Highlights of Pens 7-0 Win in Game 5

Nothing beats listening to Mike Lange describe a Penguins' goal.
Break It Down: Byham Theater

Break It Down: Byham Theater

When you walk into the Sixth Street entryway of the Byham Theater, Downtown, you will see patches of green and black tile on the walls: These are originals from the early 20th century, says John Mumper, facilities manager at the Byham. The grand theater has plenty of history to go with its 100-plus years; let’s break it down.
 Wiz Khalifa to Headline Thrival 2017

Wiz Khalifa to Headline Thrival 2017

It’s the first time a Pittsburgh artist is headlining the annual innovation and music festival.
“What Did We Miss?” Designing a Voice for Grief

“What Did We Miss?” Designing a Voice for Grief

The Center of Life in Hazelwood partners with Carnegie Mellon University for a very powerful exhibit.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Restaurants 2017

Best Restaurants 2017

This year Pittsburgh Magazine's independent Restaurant Review Panel recognizes 34 establishments as our regions's top restaurants. Our list includes All Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out, Best Budget and Classic Comfort establishments.
Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller’s portfolio includes overseeing five specialty restaurants — Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Soba, umi and Kaya — as well as 14 fast-casual Mad Mex restaurants and a full-service catering operation. Even in an increasingly competitive environment, his restaurants remain in-demand and relevant.
Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurant: Apteka

Apteka, operated by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, is a vegan eatery that draws on Lasky’s sixth-generation Pittsburgh roots and Skowronski’s Polish heritage.
Can the Restoration of a Church Lead to the Revival of a Town?

Can the Restoration of a Church Lead to the Revival of a Town?

A small group of dedicated residents sees the restoration of their church in Tarentum as a window to the potential rebirth of their once-booming community in suburban Pittsburgh.
Remembering Henry Hillman

Remembering Henry Hillman

Reflecting on the impact of the businessman, civic visionary and philanthropist.
How David Freese is Helping to Keep Pirates' on Course

How David Freese is Helping to Keep Pirates' on Course

The Pirates’ infielder emerges as a team leader — and an offensive powerhouse.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Radio-Synced Highlights of Pens 7-0 Win in Game 5

Watch: Radio-Synced Highlights of Pens 7-0 Win in Game 5

Nothing beats listening to Mike Lange describe a Penguins' goal.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Station's Hours Expand and Le Lyonnais Opens Downtown

Station's Hours Expand and Le Lyonnais Opens Downtown

Station, the excellent Bloomfield eatery, now offers lunch service. The Big Y Group opens a French bistro in the space previously occupied by Sonoma Grille.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Vital Happy Hour Alert: Great Cocktails at the Wigle Tasting Room

Vital Happy Hour Alert: Great Cocktails at the Wigle Tasting Room

The third outpost of local distillery Wigle, found in the Omni William Penn Hotel, is an instant destination for cocktail fans.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Time Running Out for Penguins to Respond to Senators

Time Running Out for Penguins to Respond to Senators

The Penguins suddenly have a lot to sort out as they attempt to respond to another disappointing playoff loss.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The Alien Series Jumps the Shark with Covenant

The Alien Series Jumps the Shark with Covenant

Reviews of "Alien: Covenant" and "Everything, Everything," as well as local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Disney Touches: Two Couples Take on the Fairy Tale Wedding

Disney Touches: Two Couples Take on the Fairy Tale Wedding

See how these couples brought a little Disney magic into their wedding festivities

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Home of the Brave: Local Soldier Receives Renovated House

Home of the Brave: Local Soldier Receives Renovated House

Citizens Bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation partnered up to donate a mortgage-free house in Penn Hills to retired Army Staff Sergeant Shawn Jones.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Explore Your Future with Point Park University

Explore Your Future with Point Park University

The university will host three summer workshops for high school students from July 17-20.

Comments