Monday, October 25, 2010

Primanti's: The Second Most Famous Sandwich in Pennsylvania

Note: Reporting from the east coast/my grandmother's computer with no spell check.

When the lady friend informed me her best friend was getting married in Pittsburgh I did not put up a fight. After all, a trip to the Steel City (note: no one there calls it that) meant a trip to Primanti Bros. ("Primanti's") and a showdown with their famous sandwich. If you've ever seen the Food Network, you've heard of Primanti's -- they seem to spotlight it on almost every show on the network. And after trying one... I know why.

The menu board.

Now, first off, let me get this out of the way: Pittsburgh's finest is not, in my opinion, better than Philly's finest (Pat's cheesesteak). Primanti's is really good though. In fact, I feel stupid for even trying to compare the two. They may be in the same state, but Philly and the 'Burgh hate each other and like NorCal and SoCal seem to wish they were part of separate unions. The same can be said for their sandwiches... totally different states of sandwichdom.


At Primanti's they have a simple sandwich-building formula: meat, cheese, coleslaw, tomatoes and French fries in between two thick cuts of fresh Italian bread. The classic best seller is the "Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak #2" (simply known as a "cheesesteak" by locals, remarks my eating partner), which features a burger-like meat patty with the aforementioned accountrements. Although the protein is a tad on the mystery meat-side in both taste and texture, it serves as the perfect compliment to the sweet slaw, crunchy fries and delicious bread. The Ragin' Cajun Chicken Breast and Cheese is equally tasty.

Extreme close-up. Whoooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Like most sandwiches (I'm winking at you Bay Cities), Primanti's is all about the bread. In this case though, it holds the sandwich together, both literally and figuratively. The actual individual ingredients of the Primanti's sandwich are probably barely above average on their own. For example, the fries that fell out (and were consumed on their own) tasted, well, tasteless. But luckily to the rescue comes the fresh Italian bread, which mixes incredibly well with the fries and the coleslaw's acidity. The bread also deftly holds the thick sandwich together -- so well, in fact, they could probably sell it at the Container Store.

Word of advice for the unwise: don't be a touristy fool like myself and ask for the optional onions. They put on a shit ton and it totally cancels out the flavor of the rest of the sandwich.

Overall, Primanti's is definitely worth a stop next time you're in Western PA (summer vacation!) or, apparently, the Fort Lauderdale area (where all the yinzers move to retire). Although throwing the fries into the sandwich may come off as a tad gimmicky, it actually works really well in this top-notch sandwich.


  1. You said something in Philly was better than Pittsburgh. We are broken up. And I definitely can't forward this article to my friends and family.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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