Steel City Special: Primanti Brothers

By: Ben Kessler, posted Jun 22, 2009 at 9:00 am

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It seems that most sandwiches can be traced back to the Depression-era, created as a quick and easy meal on the cheap. In Pittsburgh, when steel workers needed a hot meal with the little time they had for lunch and dinner, the one-stop shop was run by three brothers named Primanti. The sandwich combines meat, cheese, fries, coleslaw and tomato on thick, fluffy Italian bread and always in that order, from bottom to top.

The original 18th Street location is constantly bustling, packed with locals and tourists alike in search of the top rated sandwich. The wait is short however, as the grill quickly pumps out meat to a line of sandwiches that are expertly assembled in seconds. No matter how large your party, a server will arrive only minutes after your order with a looming tower of sandwiches, plopping them down on wax paper, as you lick your chops in anticipation.

The key to the Primanti is the soft, yet sturdy bread, which allows you to compress the enormous sandwich between your hands enough to manage a bite. The most popular sandwich on the menu is the cheesesteak, which is dubbed the “Number 2″, and don’t even bother asking about the “Number 1″ because it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t recommend this sandwich to the average cheesesteak lover who is expecting sliced or chopped meat; in the Primanti version, the meat is formed into a patty that is fried until crispy on the grill. Instead, we’d suggest going with the peppery pastrami, spicy capicola, genoa salami, or roast beef. The coleslaw is fine chopped and vinegary, and adds a delicious crispness that counteracts the soft, salty fries. Although we typically advise against removing any components of an iconic sandwich, if coleslaw isn’t for you, never fear, as we heard several customers requesting to “hold the grass.”

For those in search of a sandwich with character, Primanti Brothers is for you. Order up a refreshing “Ahn City” beer and bask in all that the ‘burgh has to offer. One thing is for sure though, yins better come to Primanti’s on an empty stomach.

Gallery

Primanti Brothers Primanti Brothers Primanti Brothers - Genoa Primanti Brothers - Roast Beef Primanti Brothers - Pastrami Primanti Brothers - Pastrami Primanti Brothers - Pastrami

Primanti Brothers
46 18th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (Google Map)



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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jenee-Libby/1043837982 Jenée Libby

    There's NOTHING like a capicola from Primanti's – especially at PNC park watching the Pirates (they have a stand there) – add a cold one and you're set!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jenee-Libby/1043837982 Jenée Libby

    There's NOTHING like a capicola from Primanti's – especially at PNC park watching the Pirates (they have a stand there) – add a cold one and you're set!

  • http://andrewweiser.com Andrew Weiser

    Haven't been to Primanti Bros. in awhile, but having one of their sandwiches almost outweighs/justifies the PA turnpike tolls.

  • http://andrewweiser.com Andrew Weiser

    Haven't been to Primanti Bros. in awhile, but having one of their sandwiches almost outweighs/justifies the PA turnpike tolls.

  • http://www.spiltwine.amberhorizon.com/ yoko

    Primanti's pastrami: my favorite sandwich, bar none.

  • http://www.spiltwine.amberhorizon.com/ yoko

    Primanti's pastrami: my favorite sandwich, bar none.

  • http://twitter.com/nonpretentious nonpretentious

    I recommend you wash it down with I.C. Light. Aluminum can, preferred.

  • http://twitter.com/nonpretentious nonpretentious

    I recommend you wash it down with I.C. Light. Aluminum can, preferred.

  • http://unbreaded.com/2009/09/11/unbreaded-asks-whats-your-favorite-game-day-sandwich/ Unbreaded Asks: What’s Your Favorite Game Day Sandwich? | Unbreaded

    [...] you if you’re rooting for any team besides our beloved Eagles, after all, Steelers fans have Primanti Brothers and the Bears rock Al’s Italian [...]

  • Iffythegreat

    Their sandwiches are disgusting, a bunch of swill on 2 pieces of bread.

  • Esawicky

    God I miss them now that I moved to Maine. I want to open a place here.

  • Sonofliberty 2009

    Icons of the Burgh:
    Primanti's, Iron City, Isaly's chipped ham, Brass Rail burgers, Sky Scraper cones, Lemon Blend, Klondike bars, cannibal sandwiches, Have a Duke, Cordic and Company, DiCarlo's Original Pizza, Eat 'N' Park, Oyster Bar and Kennywood popcorn and fries!!

  • Mcoceleb

    Primanti's has deteriorated considerably. There are much better operators out there who's sandwiches are superior. Last time at the strip location they made me sick!

  • Renee_williams9

    Went to Primanti Bros. in Market Square two weeks ago and had the colossal fish, husband had the roast beef, daughter had the pastrami, and granddaughter had the chicken fingers. Its like heaven on earth. Will go back again.

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