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.