Meet Justin Severino, Pittsburgh’s Sultan of Spiked Salami

CURE-JustinSherry-spiked saucisson, Fernet Branca–spiked salami, Cynar-spiked swordfish: with so much booze in the food, it’s hard to imagine that Cure, chef Justin Severino’s quasi-quaint charcuterie spot in Pittsburgh, started out just two years ago as a bone-dry BYOB. “We had almost no money,” Severino says of his fashionably rustic-looking restaurant’s humble roots. No, Cure’s chef-owner didn’t grow up in a barn. He merely reconstructed one inside an urban retail setting, with interior walls of reclaimed wood and meat hooks for coat hangers. “We opened minimally,” he says. Surviving for so long on food sales alone is a big source of pride for Severino: “We had a year and a half to gain success without selling liquor, and restaurants don’t typically do that that easily.” Nowadays, however, the hooch is in high supply, both at the bar and in the kitchen. And the chef himself couldn’t be happier about having a properly stocked shop from which to sip and to experiment. “I like to drink adult beverages and I tend to be a bit of a snob about what those things are,” he says. Continue reading

Top 10 Food Trends That Must Die in 2012

Herewith, my hit list of the most puzzling, most distasteful and most overdone dining trends that need to be euthanized, for their own good, hopefully within the next 12 months:

FoodTrendIcons10. Skid marks!

You know what I’m talking about. Those streaks of dark glop wiped across white plates like the work of some abstract expressionist saucier, probably intending to evoke brush strokes. Too often, it looks like shit stains on Hanes. Not appetizing, not even at Adour.

Read the full list at Washington City Paper.

One Final Meal at the Legendary Tavern on the Green

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the future of iconic Central Park restaurant Tavern on the Green very much in doubt, the missus and I head over for one last meal in the famous Crystal Room. It’s the same spot where the wife was seated nearly 17 years earlier, a doe-eyed teenager from Ohio, dining with her grandparents, on her first trip to New York. The place remained very much the way she remembered it, overwhelmingly ornate and still bustling with wide-eyed youngsters and their wiser elders from out of town. It just looked older. Much older. “It reminds me of Mrs. Havisham in Great Expectations, the grande dame who’s seen better days,” my perceptive spouse said, noting the fraying pink tablecloth covering our sloppily bussed table, which was strewn with stray bread crumbs and specs of black pepper. “It seems a little worn around the edges.”

Read my full story at NYO.