Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Primanti Brothers (Various Locations)

FamJam in Pittsburgh 2011
Stop #1 (Friday Lunch): Primanti Brothers in Grove City

My whole family came to visit from Toronto this past weekend.  It was their first time in Pittsburgh and I had just two days to show off my new hometown.  Being a bit obsessed with food, I naturally paid special attention to selecting the dining establishments where I would take them, especially because they would be comparing Pittsburgh against an awesome foodie town.  My goal was to strike a balance between 1) the must-visit touristy places that have come to define Pittsburgh over the years; 2) the slightly lesser known, independently-owned, and relatively newer restaurants with awesome food; 3) the casual; 4) the elegant; and 5) the sustainable.  My next few blog posts will chronicle our Pittsburgh food adventures during my family's visit.

The first stop, of course, had to be Primanti Brothers.  Local Pittsburghers already know about one of the most famous establishments in town, but for those of you not from around here, the first Primanti Brothers restaurant was started in the 1930s in the Strip District.  At the time, the Strip District was a hub for many wholesale produce businesses and warehouses, and legend (read: Wikipedia) has it that Joe Primanti wanted to serve meals for truck drivers making overnight deliveries to the Strip that would allow them to eat with one hand and drive with the other.  Somehow or another, he decided it would be a good idea to dump the side of French fries and coleslaw right into the sandwich along with whatever meat is in the sandwich.  And the famous sandwich was born.  (See here for the supposedly real - but IMHO less interesting - story.)  In any case, Primanti's sandwiches became a hot item and the practice of dumping fries in food has become something of a "Pittsburgh thing,"  for better or worse.  If you ever travel to Pittsburgh and see a "Pittsburgh salad" on a restaurant menu, expect fries on top of your greens.

This isn't the kind of food I would typically suggest to my parents, but Primanti's is such a big part of the definition of "Pittsburgh food" that I think first-time visitors really need to check it out just for that reason.  We visited a relatively new Primanti's location at the Grove City Premier Outlets because we were going to do some shopping and Primanti's is definitely better than any of the food court options.  (Primanti Brothers now has 17 locations spanning across the Pittsburgh region and even three in Florida.)  I had been to Primanti's before but this was my first trip as a "local."  I ordered a Black Angus Sirloin Steak Sandwich and it looks like this:

And of course, all you can see in the sandwich are the fries and the coleslaw.

I decided to try and take another picture of the sandwich from the cut side.  If you try really hard, you can see the beef nested underneath the mountain of fries.

If you are even remotely health-conscious, Primanti's is one of those places you don't want to visit more than once a year, but it is something you might just crave once in a while.  I am not big on either fries or coleslaw, but there is something about that combo inside a sandwich that actually makes it quite tasty.  Don't ask me why, but even I (who is typically more of a fine-dine kinda gal) like a Primanti's sandwich once in a while.  The best part of this visit was seeing my parents struggle to open their mouths wide enough to fit such a large sandwich!

Next up: Friday's dinner at Restaurant Echo in Cranberry Township.
Restaurant info:
Primanti Brothers

Primanti Brothers - Grove City on Urbanspoon