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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

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Eat + Drink: Sousa leaves Salt, meatballs rolling Downtown

Sousa leaves Salt
Kevin Sousa, Salt of the Earth’s executive chef since its launch in the fall of 2010, announced yesterday that he had stepped down and sold his stake in the restaurant in order to devote his time to other projects.

“It was something in the back of my mind when [Braddock Mayor] John Fetterman and I started to really pull together what we thought was a pretty great idea,” Sousa says, referring to his new venture, Superior Motors. “I shelved it for a while, and when the Kickstarter succeeded, it was so moving and inspirational to me that I felt it was a good time to sell my part of Salt.”

Chad Townsend, Salt’s chef de cuisine, takes over as executive chef. Melissa Horst will stay on as the restaurant's general manager.

“Chad is a great friend. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a more talented chef in the city,” says Sousa, who hired Townsend nearly three years ago. “Chad had just come off a stint in France and he came to Salt looking for a change. We didn’t have room for him at the time, but he didn’t care and came on as a line cook. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Townsend says that he has no major or immediate changes planned for the restaurant, and that he’s eager to carry on.

“It’s a chance to continue what he started,” says Townsend, adding that he’d been receiving congratulatory messages throughout the day from colleagues. “Pittsburgh is great like that. Everybody gets along. Some of the other chefs and I are planning to do something [at Salt] in the spring. We all want to succeed and we all want to have the best restaurant in our own right, but it’s a great community for us.”

Sousa says that he’ll be using his time to make sure that his other restaurants, Union Pig & Chicken (and its second-floor bar, Harvard & Highland) and Station Street Food are running well before he spends the spring and summer working full-time at Braddock Farms in preparation for opening Superior Motors.

“I know a lot about food and the process of farming, but I’m not a farmer,” he says. “To deliver what I want, I need to give it everything I have. I feel like I owe it to everybody to deliver something great in Braddock and do the things I said I was going to do.”

At long last, meatballs
Emporio: A Meatball Joint will open its doors today at 4 p.m., and you're never going to believe what's on the menu.

Actually, you probably have a pretty good idea.

The new venture from Sienna Mercato is a 120-seat  restaurant with a 20-seat bar. In addition to meatballs made from everything from beef to pork to a vegetarian option rolled from mushrooms, white beans and cauliflower, there will be 32 beers on tap, wines, cocktails, cream sodas and Italian ices.

Emporio, on the first floor of Sienna Mercato at 942 Penn Avenue in Downtown, will be open for dinner service the rest of this week and begin its lunch service next week.

Mercato's third-floor restaurant, Il Tetto, is on track to open in the spring and will include substantial rooftop seating.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Kevin Sousa, Chad Townsend
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