Those of us stricken by the Great Cold-Flu Thing of 2013 might immediately associate Cure‘s name with a juice bar-type situation, doling out remedies and elixirs for our overstuffed sinuses, the more level- and clear-headed among us will realize the name of this Pittsburgh restaurant signals another, more delectable type of alchemy: the age-old practice of curing meat.
For the latest installment in the Snapshots series on Good. Food. Stories., here’s a look at a recent evening spent at Cure.
Look for the pig in the window at the north end of Butler Street, Lawrenceville’s main drag—you can’t miss it.
With dim lighting, meat hooks, taxidermied critters, and pressed-tin accents, the restaurant has the urban-rustic look down to a T. A small wooden chef’s counter a few steps above the main dining room lets a few diners in on the kitchen action. You can pause for a few seconds on your way to the restroom and steal a peek, but the constant bustle of servers keeps you moving, lest you get knocked out by a bowl of sugo pappardelle.
Though Chef Justin Severino and team focus on in-house charcuterie, there are vegetables galore throughout the menu. A blackboard lists the Pennsylvania producers and purveyors contributing to the night’s menu, from Green Circle Farm‘s duck to a host of goodies collected through the Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, like edible flowers from Next Life Farm, Paul Bunyan maple syrup, and wildflower honey from Buzza’s Apiary.
The SALUMI board (there are two on the menu; splurge and get the larger one, noted in all-caps) showcases the kitchen’s curing talents in glorious abundance. Rillettes, coppa di testa, chorizo, bresaola, duck prosciutto, and other treasures are displayed on a wooden board, but it’s the lardo, flavorful with garlic and spices, that steals the show. Thank sous chef Nathan Hobart for this whipped revelation.
A charcroute platter is a smorgasbord of pork cuts, from sausage to loin to belly to cheek. With piles of tangy accompaniments like violet mustard and kohlrabi kraut, and a healthy splash of ravigotte (basically a super-vinegary dressing, for you non-Frenchies), the plate is rich and bracing all at once. I couldn’t resist smushing it all together, just like the way I eat my pork and sauerkraut.
Falling-off-the-bone duck confit, on the other hand, balances the meltingly tender meat with sweetness: hints of blood orange and plum in the sauce are a modern update on the classic duck à l’orange.
Cure, 5336 Butler St., Pittsburgh PA. 412-252-2595. Closed Tuesdays.