Every bite was utterly perfect. Each course was even more breathtaking than the last. I was blissfully unaware that food could be this enjoyable, until the first time we dined at the extraordinary Cure restaurant back in 2014.
Cure is a vibrant restaurant with a small menu focused on local urban Mediterranean food. Chef and Co-owner, Justin Severino, wants his restaurant to reflect the distinctive seasons in Western Pennsylvania and celebrate its local farms. Cure opened its doors in December, 2011. By 2012, Cure was named one of the 50 Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine and one of the 25 Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh Magazine. In 2014, Chef Severino was a James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and won Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef for the Mid Atlantic region. In 2015, he won Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef AGAIN. Undeniably impressive, to say the least. And he’s right here in Pittsburgh.
I’ll never forget the first time we went to Cure. We were treated to a glorious feast, rich with seasonal offerings and salty pork bits. It was the first time that I was brave enough to try boudin noir (blood sausage). Not only did I try it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It tasted like Christmas was rolled up in a perfectly prepared sausage. Even celebrity chef and travel host, Andrew Zimmern, wanted in on Chef Severino’s boudin noir action.
15 months later, Tim and I were still talking about the incredible meal we had. We needed an excuse, any excuse really, to get back to Cure. A proper restaurant review gave us the justification we needed to indulge once more like there was no tomorrow. So we returned to the Lawrenceville restaurant with open minds and our camera in tow to document an eating experience fit for the ages.
We started with small plates of the salumi di mare (or seafood charcuterie). We sampled the Bacalao (dried and salted Cod) en Aceite (oil), with cauliflower catalan. The plating was stunning. And the rich, salty cod pieces just melted in our mouths.
Then, we sampled the Sockeye Salmon ‘Nduja’ (spreadable salmon salami) on a crostini, with pickled peppers and chives. I was wonderfully surprised by the salmon’s uniquely light texture. One of my favorite bites of the night for sure.
Next, we moved on to the small Salumi board, served with pickles, mustards, and crostini. This board had duck rillettes (similar to a pâté), nduja (spreadable salami), coppa secca (thinly sliced cured pork), and toscano salami (dry Italian salami). Cured. Meat. Heaven. And that mustard holy !@#$%^&
Next, we sampled the beef tartare with pickled jalapeños, oyster aioli, black garlic, shallots, and cured egg yolks, alongside salt & vinegar chips and butter lettuce.
For the record, I’m one of those people who get a little weird around raw meat. However, on rare occasions (see what I did there), I will happily partake. But only if the restaurant can ensure a top quality product. Cure is definitely on the trusted list. Chef Severino, a skilled whole animal butcher, uses in-house equipment to create Cure’s signature meat delicacies. Also, he ensure freshness by sourcing all the meats from reputable local purveyors, including Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, Otterbein Acres and Clarion River Valley Organics.
I can’t even begin to tell you how unbelievable the tartar was. The creaminess of the beef worked so beautifully well with the saltiness of the cured egg yokes. And the chips’ crunchiness contrasted the rich, velvety beef in such a harmonious way. I’m trying not to drool on my keyboard as I type this…
And we haven’t even gotten to our main course yet!
I ordered the Heritage Farm Chicken with chorizo, bacon cornbread, lobster and pig’s blood mole, hazelnut and tomatillo romesco, and roasted little gem lettuce.
Under all those fluffy cornbread pieces, laid the most perfectly cooked chicken breast in the entire world, I am sure of it. And that house made chorizo was spicier than ever. And I loved every bit of it.
I’m going on record with this one, that bacon cornbread is the best cornbread I’ve ever had, bar-none. It was so moist, flavorful, and downright soul-warming, I couldn’t get enough. Apparently, the house made lardo (cured pork fat) had something to do with it…Imagine that. Each bite on that plate was an explosion of flavors, changing with each winning combination.
Tim ordered the pork belly confit with spicy fermented ramp-napa cabbage, smoked farro, crispy sesame rice, and a slow cooked egg. Only culinary masterminds like Chef Severino and Chef Hoskins can make such a gluttonous dish look so fresh and clean. The pork’s texture was to die for- it was crispy on the outside and rich and buttery on the inside. Just melt in your mouth good.
Tim finished his meal with a traditional espresso.
I, on the other hand, was so inspired by Chef Severino and Chef Hoskins expressive plating that I decided to go the artistic route and try out Van Gogh’s favorite drink, Absinthe.
It was crazy tasting, and that’s probably why Van Gogh liked it so much. There’s just something about this unrelentingly creative restaurant that inspires me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. Blood sausage, sure. Lobster and pig’s blood mole, why not? Mind-altering cocktail? Hell yes. As long as it’s from Cure, I know we’ll be in for a delicious treat.
This is the brilliant culinary team responsible for our incredible meal. Clearly, they no fun in this kitchen.
Chef Severino, Chef Hoskins, Chef Hobart, and the rest of the Cure masterminds took us on a journey. Each flavorful element was precisely executed, and we followed along for the ride, hungry and excited for more. The complexity of Chef Severino’s and Chef Hoskins plates never blurred the focus of their flavors. Every drop of sauce and every pinch of seasoning extracted a newfound pleasure out of each simple, wholesome ingredient. It was truly brilliant cooking, which was lighter, brighter, and more embracing than anything I’ve ever experienced before.
A heart felt thank you to the chefs at Cure and our waitress, Madeleine, for a meal that we’ll never forget.
Cheers N’at– Devon and Tim