Primanti Bros.

By | November 16, 2006

Primanti Bros.
Locations and hours: click here

OK – it is finally time to write about Primanti’s.  All you people out there who don’t like it….I’m not even listening.  Yep, Erika is about to go into major rant mode, and if you can’t handle the extremeness of it then you better get out of the way cuz I’m on a rampage!  Primanti’s is delicious, unique, and absolutely 100% Pittsburgh.  Too hate it is to hate one’s self – you live here, it’s your identity, face it…. Let go of your hang-ups and embrace the sandwich!

So now that I’ve scared away of all the little Pittsburgh-haters (hopefully), let’s get down to business.  The Primanti-style sandwich really is a Pittsburgh institution, complete with lore and everything.  The simple way to define it is to say, “it is the sandwich with coleslaw and fries in it”, and the myth is that the sandwich was created to accommodate the needs of hungry steel workers and truckers who wanted to eat all their food with one hand at one time.  There used to be many places that sold this kind of sandwich, but it is now mostly the domain of Primanti Bros’s, who have about a dozen locations, including the two stadiums and branches in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  They are also open late, most of them till 2am, which makes it perfect for an after drinking snack.

Now, I know a lot of people think fries and coleslaw on a sandwich sounds revolting.  They say “EWWW” and “GROSS”.  These would be mostly people who did not grow up in Pittsburgh.  For some reason, the rest of the country has some unexplainable closed mindedness about the mingling of menu items.  There is some set of unspoken rules about what kinds of things are acceptable as toppings on a sandwich.  Lettuce and tomatoes are OK, but carrots no way – once at Subway I heard someone going on and on about how cucumbers don’t belong on a sandwich, not now, not ever.  The rules seem to change regionally as well, like avocados in California, and other toppings, like alfalfa sprouts, seem to have somehow broken the topping-barrier just in the past couple of decades.  In Pittsburgh, we have some sort of compulsion to put fries on things the rest of the country finds inappropriate and alarming – like salads and sandwiches.  Come on – what is wrong with fries on a salad?  People already put fattening croutons, cheeses, and dressings on their little leaves to fatten them up – what’s wrong with some steak and fries too?  It is freakin’ delicious!  It’s not like we are buttering our doughnuts here….

But I digress.  At Primanti’s, the famous sandwich is just about the only thing on the menu, but you can get over 22 different kinds of this sandwich (see menu).  For vegetarians there is a triple cheese and a double egg and cheese sandwich.  The egg and cheese is so good I see tons of voracious meat eaters get it too.  The most popular is probably something they call a cheese steak, but which is actually more like a long burger patty.  My favorite is salami and cheese, as the salami gets all crispity on the edges and is just so satisfying.  There’s several kinds of sausages (hot, sweet, knockwurst), and even sardines.  They also have just plain old ham, roast beef, bologna, and bacon.  There is an option for everyone!  I do think that some are better than others, but it is a matter of personal taste so you’ll have to go a couple times to find your favorite.  Also, make sure you get yourself some ketchup and Frank’s at your table so you can really go to town.

And if you really have never been before, prepare yourself for a giant, messy sandwich.  When I say giant, I really mean it.  Sometime I feel like I am in a Scooby-Doo cartoon, wishing I had a string to tie around the sandwich to compress it into something that could feasibly fit into my mouth all at once.  It is a little ridiculous, but I love it.  It is also definitely greasy.  Just about the only valid reason not to eat Primanti’s is because of your health.  OK, so maybe it is theoretically possible that you just don’t like their style of coleslaw (which is not at all creamy, but tart instead) or some other matter of finicky-ness.  But don’t go around bashing it – it’s just not right.  It’s like taking a leak in the bath water, or calling your own mom a ho.  Love it and be proud, if not for the sandwiches, then at least as an unequivocal Pittsburgh tradition.

GET:
a sandwich

DON’T GET:
Well, I didn’t like the taco salad the one time I got it (too much gloopy cheese).  Not sure about the other salads.  If you are on a diet then you are probably better off just skipping this place entirely.

SNEAKY TIP:
The menu is actually different for the suburban locations – they actually have way more menu items, including stuff like lasagna n’at.

SNEAKY TIP:
For a good time, read the scrolling sign at the Oakland location:
Welcome
to Primantis’
(trumpet)  (musical notes)
Finally!
at last!
(trumpet)
new new new
special
soup of
the day ask
for it!
also enjoy a
cold beer
daily draft
beer specials
(mug)
however
(martini)
(bubbling animation)
(car crash with little stick dude flying out)
Please
don’t drink
and drive
Thank you


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