Review By: Stefanie Parks –
On our drive from Columbus to Pittsburgh, we looked up the top ten things to do in the city. The incline was number one, which we were definitely planning on hitting up, but number two on the list was the famous sandwich shop, Primanti Bros. Whenever there’s a food place on a list of top ten things to do in a city, you know it has to be good… And so of course, we had to check it out.
We got into Pittsburgh just in time for dinner. There are 18 Primanti Bros. locations throughout the city, but of course, we wanted to hit up the original (even though we were staying down the street from their location on Pitt’s campus). We drove through the extremely hilly streets of the city, made a few wrong turns (our navigation wasn’t working due to all of the hills – weird, I know), and then we finally made it to the Strip District and the original Primanti Bros.
The first thing we saw when we walked in was a huge “cash only” sign, which is usually a pretty good indicator that a place is going to be good. We chose a seat and looked at one of the two huge menu’s plastered onto the wall. Primanti Bros. is famous for the fact that they put their fries and coleslaw right on the sandwich. None of this whole side dish business.
The first thing that caught our eye on the menu was the Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak Sandwich. The number two best-seller (that’s what it says). There’s no number one best-seller on the menu though, so even though we were a little confused, we were sold on the Pitts-Burgher.
Our waiter came to check on us and of course, as always, we had a few questions:
Q: We see that the Pitts-Burgher is the number two best seller, but what about the number one?
A: The beer is number one.
Ok, in that case, I guess we’re getting a beer.
Q: Then what’s the second best selling or most popular sandwich (i.e. what else should we get!!!)
A: Pastrami and cheese.
We started out with their #1 best-selling menu item, an Iron City Beer. I thought it tasted like Bud Light, but hey, I like Bud Light, so no complaints here. Then, we got the Almost Famous Hot Chili Bowl, an order of French fries (no, the ones that come on the sandwich were not enough for us), the two sandwiches that I mentioned above, and a big pickle.
After we started on our beer, our bowl of chili came out (with crackers). It had just the right amount of spice and was the perfect start to our meal. Then came our fries and pickle. The pickle was awesome (I love a good pickle), but the fries were actually a little disappointing. They tasted like they were a day old and were a little mushy for my taste. I still suspected that they would taste pretty great on our sandwiches though… And they did. Our sandwiches came out, and not only were they huge, they were all served on sheets of paper. In fact, everything was served on sheets of paper rather than plates. Love it.
First, I took a bite of the Pitts-Burgher. I mean second best item on the menu and first best sandwich? I could hardly wait to get in there. I loved the fries, loved the coleslaw, even loved the bread, but the only problem was that I could hardly taste the cheesesteak patty (the meat was in patty form, not shaved like on a typical cheesesteak). I ended up removing about half of the fries from the sandwich (and now that I’m saying that I feel like I may be shunned for doing so) and then I was finally able to really taste the meat.
Before starting on the pastrami, I removed more of the fries (sorry, I just wanted to be able to taste the meat) and then I dug in. Wow. Can someone tell me why the pastrami and cheese sandwich isn’t the number two most best seller? I mean, I’d even go as far as to say that it should be moved up to number one. I’ll take a pastrami sandwich from Primanti Bros. over an Iron City Beer any day.
Just as we were finishing up, the Steelers game was coming to an end and the football crowd began to fill up the restaurant. I’ve never seen so many jerseys in one place (well, one place that isn’t a stadium) and I’ve never seen so many men so excited about their post-football sandwich.
So yes, I thought the sandwiches and the whole restaurant were pretty awesome. Yes I had to remove some of the fries and yes I thought the Pastrami and Cheese should be #2 rather than the Pitts-Burgher, but regardless, I can see why Primanti Bros. is a Pittsburgh institution. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would be headed there in my Steelers jersey after every game too.
And, if you like Primanti Bros., you should check out Lucky’s in Chicago.