Burger City Guides: Justin Severino's Favorite Burgers in Pittsburgh


Justin Severino [Photograph: Adam Milliron]

At Cure, chef/owner Justin Severino serves up locally-sourced ingredients prepared with an urban-Mediterranean influence. The 2014 James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and contender for Food & Wine's The People's Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic is known for his charcuterie, but he's also a burger fan.

When he's cooking burgers at home, Justin grinds his own chuck, seasons it with salt and pepper, and grills it to medium-rare over mesquite charcoal. On top, he adds sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, and whole grain mustard. Brioche is his bun of choice.

Despite leaning towards classic burgers when he's cooking for himself, Justin is totally open to adventurous inventions. He says the most unusual burger he's had recently was a Monte Cristo burger. "It was a beef patty with ham and swiss. Instead of a bun, it had two pieces of Texas French toast dusted with powdered sugar with a healthy spoonful of raspberry jam on top. It was actually kind of awesome."

So, where does this skilled whole animal butcher go when he wants to dig into a burger? Scroll down to find out.

Justin Severino's Top 5 Burgers in Pittsburgh

1: Butterjoint: The ethics that go into their burger are fantastic. They buy whole, local cows, then dry age and grind in the restaurant. It's the cleanest, most delicious burger I have ever had. Their combinations are always interesting, i.e.: Gruyere, caramelized onions and tomato jam. They always offer a "Fancy Burger of the Day" which is always changing.
214 N Craig Street, Pittsburgh PA 15213 (map); 412-621-2700; thebutterjoint.com


Gourmet Burger from Tessaros (AHT review) [Photograph: Nick Solares]

2: Tessaros: It's an awesome burger, but also an awesome Pittsburgh experience and a neighborhood institution. The burgers are simple, ground in house, cooked over an oak-fired grill. I get the classic with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo, yellow mustard, and pickles.
4601 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15224 (map); 412-682-6809; tessaros.com

3. Eleven: Gluttonous, in a good way. It's a great way to prepare for a nap. The burger is huge, topped with braised veal, black pepper bacon, crispy onions, and cheese (I get blue).
1150 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map); 412-201-5656; elevenck.com

4: Burgatory: Small locally owned chain, super casual, super fast. They have a burger menu, but I choose the "build your own" Pick a protein, pick a bun, pick a rub, pick a cheese, pick a sauce....I get something different every time.
Multiple locations, see burgatorybar.com


Santa Fe Hippie Burger from BRGR [Photograph: BRGR]

5: BRGR: Also locally owned, with a few locations. I like the "Button Buster" with braised beef short ribs, white cheddar cheese, béarnaise aioli, and crispy onions. They also serve awesome boozy milkshakes and have scantily clad cow girl photos in the men's room, which is nice.
Multiple locations, see brgrpgh.com