Justin Severino

Cure

Address and Info

In the last five years, Justin Severino has made an indelible mark on Pittsburgh’s culinary community. Since opening Cure in 2011, the accolades, including a James Beard Award nomination, have steadily rolled in -- and Severino has kept his head down and worked through it all.  

That no-nonsense ethic drove Severino to launch his second Lawrenceville restaurant late last year. Morcilla opened to rave reviews, cementing his reputation as one of the city’s brightest stars. Not only has the Spanish restaurant been on just about every Best New Restaurant list in town (including ours), but it’s packed every night, with locals and visitors alike.  

Though the menus and cuisines at Severino’s restaurants differ, they’re both uniquely and unmistakably his. Both restaurants have insanely good charcuterie selections, with primarily house-cured meats from black strap ham to Negroni-spiked salami. Severino excels in creating refined, interesting dishes that still feel incredibly accessible to a more traditional meat-and-potatoes crowd.

Severino has gone full circle on his journey to become one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved stars. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Severino spent a few years bouncing around California, working in kitchens and running a butcher shop. When he moved back to Pittsburgh, he did stints in various restaurants before venturing out on his own. Back when he first opened Cure, Severino was far from a recognizable name. Five years later, he’s leading the charge to make Pittsburgh a world-class culinary destination

Matthew Conboy

Trevett Hooper

Legume

Address and Info

In a world that centers around what’s new and what’s next, Trevett Hooper is happy to stay his course.   

“The thing that we excel at is something that has kind of come out of fashion,” Hooper said. “Farm to table food is not as fashionable now as it was ten years ago, and while it’s not the most trendy thing, we’re really trying to be a genuine farm to table restaurant.”

That restaurant, Legume, is on the cusp of celebrating its 10th year in business, and the adjoining bar, Butterjoint, has been around for four. And Hooper is ready to expand his Oakland footprint with the soon-to-open Pie for Breakfast, an all-day, everything-from-scratch café, right next door.

“We just want to be working on interesting and fun things,” he said. “And we want to work with really interesting people.”

Over the last decade, Hooper has earned a reputation for being fanatical about local sourcing. He’s developed close relationships with a number of local farms and farmers, sitting down with his favorites each year to request certain plantings of unusual vegetables, plotting menu ideas a year in the future. His storage room is legendary, loaded with dozens of jars of house-made pickles, jams, and preserved vegetables, which give bright bursts of summer tastes even in the dead of winter.

Though Hooper is known for the traditional cooking methods and techniques that have become central to his approach to food, everything in his New American restaurant still feels fresh, even after all this time.

“In some ways, I feel like we’re mastering the lute,” he said. “We’re mastering this thing that is kind of archaic, but incredibly important.”

christopher ruth

Kate Lasky & Tomasz Skowronski

Apteka

Address and Info

Since opening earlier this year, Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski’s Apteka has become one of Pittsburgh’s most exciting new restaurants, and Lasky and Skowronski have become two of Pittsburgh’s most exciting new chefs.

The duo first made their name in Pittsburgh with their monthly Pierogi Night pop-ups, where hordes of people would line up to get a taste of their homemade pierogies at various spots around town. That led to a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped them launch their Bloomfield restaurant -- an open, modern space that doubles as a community hub.

With a small menu that focuses on the complex flavors of Eastern European, Lasky and Skowronski are bridging the gap between old-world tastes and modern techniques. Think: Lots of fermenting, preserves, and house-made pickles, all inspired by their European travels and Skowronski’s childhood visits to family in Warsaw. But don’t expect many dishes that your Polish babcia would recognize. Apteka’s menu is refined, with dishes that have smoked onion remoulade sharing a plate with traditional pickled beets and house-made seed bread.

The restaurant is completely vegan, though carnivores won’t miss meat or dairy. Roasted vegetables bulk up many dishes, and the seasonal menu (and pierogi selection) changes with such frequency that no two visits will ever be exactly the same.  

Skowronski and Lasky have paid special attention to Apteka’s bar program, infusing cordials and liqueurs, and crafting hearty, savory cocktails, like a gin and Chartreuse drink spiked with celery seed. This is a place purveying traditional flavors brought decidedly up to date. It’s enough to make even the most hard-to-please babcia happy.

Up Next
Food & Drink

This Pittsburgh Spot Serves Cheesy Gnocchi Out of Bread Bowls

Published On 01/19/2018
Coronado
Sponsored

Indoor Day-Trip Destinations To Cure Your Chicago Winter Blues

Published On 02/16/2018
Bar Frenchman | Dustin Wickett
Food & Drink

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
P
ittsburgh takes its culinary clues from no one. The chefs and restaurateurs leading this city have their own, hard-won sense of what will work in this town, and the best new restaurants to open this year -- from a seafood and chop house to a French brasserie -- have forged their own path to offer something unique to Pittsburgh’s hungry masses.
Ki Ramen PGH

Ki Ramen

Lawrenceville

Bustling ramen restaurant known for from-scratch noodles
Chef Roger Li has been busy. Last year, he opened Umami, a Japanese-style gastropub (and one of our best new restaurants of 2016), and this year, he (along with fellow Lawrenceville restaurateur Domenic Branduzzi) debuted two new concepts: Ki Pollo, the just-opened fast-casual restaurant offering Korean-style fried chicken and empanadas, and Ki Ramen, a from-scratch ramen restaurant, which has quickly become a go-to for those of us who lamented the lack of quality ramen in the city. At Ki Ramen, Branduzzi is charged with preparing the noodles that are cut daily using a Japanese-made noodle machine, adding weight and substance to Li’s delicate, delicious broths. The menu has evolved over time, and includes a vegetarian curry ramen and shoyu ramen, served with soy-braised chicken and an onsen (sous vide) egg. The restaurant has also recently added house-made bao to the menu, with fillings (miso eggplant and roast duck are two recent favorites) that change daily.

Union Standard

Downtown

Buzzy downtown spot offering a modern take on Northeast American cuisine
Since opening earlier this year, Derek Stevens’ Union Standard has given Downtown a sorely needed after-work option, elegant enough to take out-of-town clients yet casual enough for happy hour drinks with friends. The beautifully designed restaurant was part of a $100 million renovation to the historic Union Trust Building, and offers a lively, modern bar area downstairs, and a cozy, intimate upstairs dining room. The menu merges Northeastern American coastal cuisine with heartier dishes made on the wood-fired rotisserie and grill, and Stevens also offers an incredible raw bar, serving shellfish and seafood from all the usual Northeast spots -- Massachusetts, Chesapeake and Maine are typically represented. Although the menu changes frequently, it tends to lean toward traditional steak-and-seafood house fare, including a flawlessly-prepared rib-eye and a salmon dish that’s brightened with dill gnocchetti and hazelnut brown butter. You’ll also find one of the best bar snack menus in the city here, with elevated takes on classic offerings including duck fat popcorn (made with Anson Mills heirloom flint corn) and smelts (fried and served crispy with a smoked pepper remoulade).

Dustin Wickett

Bar Frenchman

East Liberty

Upscale French brasserie serving classic European dishes  
The Twisted Frenchman has been a top-ranked restaurant in Pittsburgh since opening in 2015, so when chef/owner Andrew Garbarino announced earlier this year that he was introducing a new upscale French bistro concept, we were stoked. Bar Frenchman has since lived up to the high standards set by the Twisted Frenchman, serving perfectly-executed French classics like escargot with mushroom ragout, ratatouille, mussels & frites, and the best foie gras to be found in the city. The elegant bar also serves a killer cocktail, with a menu that features twists on classics (the Boukman daiquiri with white rum, cognac, lime and cinnamon is a favorite), along with an extended list of Champagne cocktails.

Superior Motors

Braddock

Community-driven, hyper-local restaurant in Braddock with a focus on seasonality  
It’s impossible to over-emphasize how highly anticipated Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors was for the Pittsburgh dining community. Not only was it one of the highest-grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaigns ever, but Sousa (who dazzled diners at Salt of the Earth and Union Pig & Chicken) has a well-earned reputation as one of the city’s leading culinary forces, and while the wait was long -- more than three years between the initial Kickstarter campaign and opening night -- it was worth it. The community-focused restaurant in Braddock is now open seven days a week, serving a seasonal, locally sourced menu, with produce primarily coming from nearby Braddock Farms. The dessert menu is a particular standout, with complex pairings (chocolate matcha cake with mushroom, sourdough pound cake with fresh corn cream) ending each meal on a decidedly sweet note.

or, The Whale

Downtown

An elegant seafood and chop house known for customer attention  
Downtown’s new Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh is now home to or, The Whale, an ambitious restaurant led by chef Dennis Marron, who’s pulling double duty on the restaurant-opening front as his Merchant Oyster Company also recently opened in Lawrenceville. Housed in what used to be the gym and track area of the historic Salvation Army building, or, The Whale is a beautifully designed gem, with an upstairs bar and lounge, and an impressive dining room that features a butcher room, a private wine cellar, and an open kitchen, featuring a wood-burning hearth and a pastry room (all the better for pastry chef Jessica Lewis to make her delightful desserts). The menu offers an eclectic take on seafood and chophouse standards, with dry-aged steaks sharing space with linguine and cockles (served in a lightly seasoned garlic herb sauce), and a ground duck burger topped with seared foie gras. A separate bar, called Evangeline, adds to the experience, serving coffee during the day, and cocktails and raw bar offerings at night.