Local Northsider serves up Italian comfort food


Photo by Rachael Rennebeck
Basil, Feta, Pine Nut dip made by Jen Saffron

By Rachael Rennebeck

Sprezzatura is an Italian word meaning nonchalance; effortless. It is the ability to conceal, and progress, without much thought. Sprezzatura is also the name of Jen Saffron’s catering company that is tempting taste buds throughout her Northside neighborhood.

Saffron moved to Pittsburgh from Washington, DC. to attend Carnegie Mellon University over 30 years ago. She, along with her family, has made the Northside her home for most of that time.

In fact, her grandmother was the head cook for her country club and often shared recipes through casual family conversation. But it wasn’t until the usual cook for an annual event at the Pressley High Rise was unable to make the pasta sauce that Saffron received the opportunity to cook in masses.

“They knew I liked to cook and they assumed it would be authentic enough because after all, they knew I was Italian,” joked Saffron of her seven-year stint as the cook for the charitable event. “That little fill-in job led to many church dinners and a wealth of food preparation for special occasions.”

Her neighborhood good deed also led to her present day renting of the commercial kitchen space at The Priory Hotel, thanks to owner John Graf, plus her partnering with the 412 Food Rescue to create a new model that is a socially responsible food hub.

“I have never considered myself a chef, rather I appreciate that food is about a sense of family, knowing that you belong somewhere, or that you are loved,” said Saffron. “Pittsburgh doesn’t need another restaurant, just a wholesome and affordable food option that creates a warm environment.”

Saffron, who also serves as the Director of Communications for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, aims to create home cooked, real Italian food from hearty dips to her savory meatballs and sauce, and who knows where this endeavor will lead her next.





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