Chef Justin Severino Opening New Eatery in Lawrenceville
Plus Seven Springs hosts a rib and wing festival and the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory shares a tasty recipe.
Justin Severino’s Cure set to open in late fall
When chef Justin Severino returned to Pittsburgh after eight years in the Bay Area, he was uncertain whether or not his unique culinary style could catch on in the ’Burgh.
“I was certainly cautious,” says Severino, a graduate of Pennsylvania Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu). “When I left Pittsburgh, it definitely was not what was going on in the city.”
However, after being back for four years, the executive chef at Elements Contemporary Cuisine realizes his charcuterie expertise and emphasis on local ingredients can work in the Steel City.
“The charcuterie menu definitely has caught on in Pittsburgh,” Severino says. “And the local food thing—that’s working as well. People want to know where their food comes from.”
Now, Severino has decided to open up his own place, a small, casual eatery at 5336 Butler St. in Upper Lawrenceville. While Severino hadn’t necessarily planned on leaving Elements so soon, starting his own restaurant is something he’s always wanted—and everything just seemed to come together at the same time.
“Elements proved to me that I could do this here in Pittsburgh, and with that being said, a lot of things just fell into place right behind that,” Severino says. “A really desirable place came up in a part of town I wanted, financial backers were there to help, my wife supports it and I’m confident and ready to do it.”
Severino hopes to have Cure, as it will be called, open before the holiday season. And as the name implies, it will feature those same cured meats that Severino has become such an expert at preparing.
“When I break down charcuterie [that goes onto a charcuterie board] into categories, there are salamis or dried sausages, pate and whole dry-cured muscles,” Severino explains. “What I’d like to do is have an ever-changing variety of those three different categories.
“At Elements, we do an extreme amount of charcuterie,” he continues. “I like to simplify it all just to make it manageable.”
In order to keep things simple, Severino plans on featuring a shorter menu—10 to 12 items total. Plus, the staff preparing the food will be small—just two cooks in the kitchen with Severino.
And while cured meats will certainly be an integral part of said menu, Severino seems equally as thrilled about the local produce involved.
“I think a lot of people assume that what I do is charcuterie, but realistically right now I’m so much more excited about corn and tomatoes than I am charcuterie,” he says. “At Elements, I probably spend more time sourcing vegetables than I do thinking about charcuterie.”
For Severino, though, priority No. 1 is a casual environment that’s inviting to all.
“At this point in my career, what I don’t like about what I do is the pretentiousness associated with what people consider fine dining food,” Severino says. “At this point, I’m not really interested in the term ‘fine-dining food.’ I think it’s just food.
“I’m going to try really hard to make it extremely casual,” he adds. “I’d like it to be … inviting to anyone who wants to come in there—from the décor to the food—just approachable from anyone’s perspective.”
And Severino believes he’s found the right town for the type of atmosphere he’s looking to create. He likes the people of Lawrenceville and feels it’s the kind of community in which anything goes.
The late-fall opening is simply a coincidence, but there’s good news for Severino’s first few customers: Autumn is his favorite season during which to cook.
“I just love the theme that can go along with cooking in the fall,” he says. “Beer and ham and sauerkraut and mustard—all that kind of stuff. I love it.”
(5366 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Projected opening of Cure: late fall.)
-Dave Floyd, PM Editorial Intern
Seven Springs hosts second rib and wing event
This weekend, you have a chance to try finger-lickin’-good ribs and wings from purveyors like Pigfoot BBQ, Smokin Joe’s Hog Wild Barbecue and Mojo’s Rib Shack at the Seven Springs Rib & Wing Festival. In addition to the mouth-watering eats, there will be live music, crafters, a beer garden, a kids’ zone and fireworks on Friday at dusk.
(Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Waterwheel Drive, Seven Springs. July 29-31. $7, adults; kids ages 12 and younger, free. Food costs not included in admission fees. Info: 800-452-2223, 7springs.com)
-Kate Chynoweth, PM Food Editor, pittsburghmagazine.com/food
Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory shares tasty breakfast recipe
For this indulgent recipe, Debbie Steinberg, co-owner of the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory, recommends using bananas-foster marshmallows, but just about any flavor will produce delicious results.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, combine one-and-one-half cups milk or half-and-half, six large eggs, two tablespoons pure vanilla extract, two teaspoons
cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Whisk together vigorously. In a 9×11 pan, place a single layer of six to eight slices of hearty bread (use day-old for the best results). Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and let sit for five minutes on each side (use a spatula to flip). Melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat in a large pan or griddle. Turn heat to medium-low, and fry each slice for two to three minutes per side (or until golden brown). Place the French toast on a baking sheet as it finishes cooking; when all the pieces are done, top each one with a dab of butter and a fresh marshmallow, and cook in the oven for about seven minutes (or until the marshmallow melts).
For more on marshmallows, including extended coverage of the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory, click here.
-Kate Chynoweth, PM Food Editor