A group of friends from DC and I have taken a road trip to Pittsburgh. I will be posting a series on our dining adventures, including some from Western Pennsylvania in general. I extended the trip to visit my parents in my hometown of New Castle, about an hour outside the city.
Pittsburgh has an excellent food scene. I may be biased, but Pittsburgh’s food will always be highly valued in my mind. I think it is because we really know how to eat here. Whether it is because there are so many Italians and Polish here or because we all just really love carbs, you can expect endless hearty food when you come to Pittsburgh.
A fine example of this trend would be the “Almost Famous” Primanti Bros. This restaurant has been the pride of Pittsburgh since 1933. There are now 44 locations, primarily in Pennsylvania, but a few going as far as Florida. It is one of the most successful (and possibly most well-known restaurant chains in Pittsburgh).
If you are unfamiliar with the menu, the concept is simple: a sandwich with fresh made Italian bread topped with meat and cheese of your choice, piled high with french fries and coleslaw, then finished with the other half of the bread.
Pittsburgh is known for putting french fries in food items where people would typically think they don’t belong, such as salads. If you ever see a “Pittsburgh steak salad” on a menu anywhere expect there to be fries on it. Expect fries to be on any steak, chicken, lamb salad, etc. in Pittsburgh or in most of Western PA.
Eating at Primanti Bros. is one of the most iconic things to do in Pittsburgh. Naturally, this was the first thing we did for our weekend together, especially since Chris had never been to Pittsburgh before. We went to the Primanti Bros. in Oakland, since we planned to spend our afternoon there.
I will admit that I was never that thrilled about or impressive with Primantis. I was never quite sure why my relatives who have moved away from the area always want to get Primantis when they are home. I have learned this weekend that the reason why I felt that way was because I had only ever had Primantis from the Grove City location. My aunt told me that location is not very good.
My experience at the Oakland location was much different. The atmosphere was chill and welcoming. We arrived at 11:30, so fortunately we missed the major rush. We ordered ourselves some large beers because these sandwiches called for a good, cold beer.
I ordered the capicola and cheese sandwhich. Capicola is a spicy Italian ham, and it is delicious. It gave this starch heavy sandwich more flavor. Andrew ordered pastrami and cheese, and Chris ordered kielbasa and cheese. Both of these were good, but I liked mine the best.
As you can see from the picture below, these sandwiches are about 80 percent french fries. All of the components together made a perfect bite. The meat and fries were hot and made me feel all warm inside. The coleslaw added a nice texture. The best part of this sandwich is definitely the bread. It is fresh made Italian bread, cut thick to hold all those fillings. It is soft and just what I expect from fresh Italian bread.
This dining experience redeemed Primanti Bros for me. I am glad to have tried a great tasting Primantis sandwich. I am also happy we got to introduce Chris to this classic Pittsburgh fare before we went on to explore Oakland.
*This post reflects my honest views. I did not receive any compensation or other incentives to post this review.
3803 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213