I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh

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FlattedFifth
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2006/09/09 05:26:11 (permalink)

I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh

Okay, I am not trying to start a flame war here, but I've had two meals at Primanti Brothers (both in Oakland) and I didn't like either of them. I mean I REALLY didn't like either of them. Can someone please explain to me why I am wrong or what I am missing?

I had no idea that this place was such an institution before my first visit, but fries and cole slaw on a sandwich? Man does that have me written all over it; I was very excited about getting one. Being from NYC I was a bit leary of ordering the pastrami, so I consulted with my waitress (yes I had a waitress, unusual I know) and she steered me away from the Philly cheese steak and towards the capicola and cheese. When it arrived I eagerly took a bite and was terribly disappointed. There was so little meat I could barely taste it, and I'm still not sure if there was actually cheese on it. The slaw was pretty good, but it sogged up the bread pretty badly and the sandwich was falling to pieces about a third of the way through. But the real horror show and what really made the sandwich almost inedible were the fries, yes the fries.

I have no reservations stating that, in my opinion, Primanti Brothers fries are just plain AWFUL! Possibly the worst I've ever had. They were bland, greasy and soggy. They were cooked fresh, but only once, there was no second crisping. I thought they were awful and frankly, that they ruined the sandwich. Now mind you, the thought of a sandwich brimming with fried goodness is making me hungry right now, but not these fries. If it were 2am and I was drunk and still in college I think I would skip these.

A couple of days later I learned a little of the history and status of the restaurant and I returned and at a time when I was absolutely famished. I sat at the counter and chatted with the cook. He suggested the Angus steak. Terrific...not terrific, tragic. More of the same problems, barely any meat, soggy bread, and terrible, terrible, terrible fries. I really think I would enjoy their food if the there was more meat and crispy fries.

So I ask you all: Am I wrong? What was the problem? Did I order the wrong things? Should I only eat at the one on the strip? (Where is that anyway?) Is it just over-hyped? What am I missing?

My apologies to all the Pittsbughians (?, 'burghites?, Pittsburghers?), I know I would take offense to someone trashing Gray's Papaya, or Grimaldi's pizza, but I really thought Primanti Brothers wasn't very good. It looks like I will be spending quite a bit of time in the 'burgh over the next few years and I'd love to hear your opinions and recommendations.

Once again, this may come off as a little harsh, but in truth I am just looking for some education.

#1

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    mayor al
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 06:16:06 (permalink)
    Does the term "Different Strokes, for Different Folks" sound a bell somewhere?
    Or How about "When in Rome, At least try what the Romans eat"???

    And my final witty response... Some days you get the Bear, and Some days the Bear gets you!!

    You tried the place, twice, and it didn't meet your expectations. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, even if it runs counter to the general thoughts about this place. Others may take issue with your thoughts, but I think you stated your opinion fairly.
    #2
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 07:29:31 (permalink)
    I have to concur with Flattedfifth.When I took my vacation in 2005 to see the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Primanti Bros(the one on the strip) was one of my must do side trips. I had the double pastrami and egg, and was very disappointed. The bread wasn't up to the job at hand, fell apart after about 1/3 of the sandwich. I enjoyed the atmosphere, but wouldn't go again on my own initiative.
    #3
    phlmaestro
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 09:08:44 (permalink)
    I also tried the place once and couldn't stand it. There was very little meat, white bread and gobs and gobs of cole slaw and fries. I guess everyone has their own taste, and Primanti's is about as far from mine as can be.
    #4
    Davydd
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 10:53:29 (permalink)
    The Mayor speaks wisdom. Heed it. It is not a question of whether you like it or not. You try it and respect it. Primanti Brothers would not stay in business unless there was a large dedicated following. Some foods become institutions that go beyond taste, or people simply acquire the taste. In this case it defines Pittsburgh and no one else has it. I cannot explain why a Minnesotan would eat lutefisk but gag on grits. The most extreme thing I tried was corn fermented and brewed Chicha in a shared gourd at a dirt floor bar in a Bolivian Andes Mountain village. But I drank the foul tasting drink with gusto and didn't complain and did so again when it circled around back to me. Look if Anthony Bourdain can sit on an Inuit kitchen floor and eat a raw seal eye and respect the natives, you can give Pittsburgh its due.

    Edit: For the record, I have been to Primanti Brothers and sampled their fare. I enjoyed the idea of the whole meal on a sandwich.
    #5
    Nemis
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 11:25:46 (permalink)
    FlattedFifth, I'd have to agree with you that Primanti Brothers is one to be skipped. The service was really nice but Id have to agree with you on the details of the sandwich from the fries to the "steak" sandwich. My huband and I ended up throwing away the sandwiches and had dinner by way of the mini bar snacks in our hotel.
    Gray's Papaya!! You lucky dog!! Had my first Gray's Papaya last Feb. while visiting NYC and haven't stopped craving for them since!!
    #6
    wanderingjew
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 12:02:50 (permalink)
    As you all know, I grew up in NY and know a good hot dog and deli sandwich, however I also lived in Pittsburgh for 5 years and thoroughly enjoyed Primanti's. I think the key to a good Primanti's Sandwich is the choice of meat. I always ordered the Kolbassi and Cheese. They've never been stingy with the meat and I believe that the Kolbassi can hold it's own and stand up to the rest of the ingredients in the sandwich including the sweet n sour slaw. Oh, one more thing- Hot Sauce definetely livens up the experience!
    #7
    tiki
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 12:58:41 (permalink)
    Although i have never been there---the whole idea of fries IN the sandwich does NOT appeal to me---and everyone i have talked to that has been there says they are very messy to eat---and. like Povety says,that the bread was not very good. Will still give it a shot though, the next time i am in the area.
    #8
    ann peeples
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 13:05:24 (permalink)
    I gotta throw in my 2 cents worth-I did not get the impression flattedfifth was at all being disrespectful.The statements reflected that.As a matter of fact,more than once the question was asked if perhaps the wrong thing was being ordered, and was there something that should be ordered to reflect the popularity of the restaurant.Even apologized for his opinion.THAT is respect.And wanderingjew piped in what he has had success with.That seems what flattedfifth wanted-advice.
    #9
    FlattedFifth
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 14:02:24 (permalink)
    Wow, I feel like I started a small revolution here. I expected the tide of opinion to be strongly against me on this one and was prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of many, many people. I'm surprised to see as much agreement as there are.

    Davydd I agree with you strongly that there is a cultural aspect to taste and one must respect that in any foreign situation. Were this Lutefisk, I probably wouldn’t have said a thing, and I assure you given the chance to share a gourd passed around in the Andes I’d be all over it, even it was filled with rancid yak blood. But in this case we are talking about meat and fries, pretty universal, at least to Americans. New York is a town filled with institutions I understand that, believe me the beer at McSorleys isn’t really particularly good, nor is any of the food they sell there, but that doesn’t stop me from waiting on line once or twice a year to get in. And the best thing about a knish at Yankee stadium is, well…It’s a knish! At Yankee stadium!

    Granted there will always be varying tastes, but I think what my real question is, simply put: Is Primanti Bros. so popular simply because it is an institution or is Primanti Bros. an institution because it is so popular?

    I know I will give it one more shot, I intend to go to the strip next time and on the advice of a close friend get the roast beef, and see if I can’t get someone to split it with wanderingjews recommendation of kolbassi and cheese. But I have to tell you, I sure hope the fries are crispy.

    Oh and a special thanks to The Mayor whose comments I suspect were less about Primanti’s and more about keeping me from being kicked off the board and followed home for a lynching.


    Edit: Wanderingjew, an other recomendations for a fellow NYer? I've done some searching here and see your name all over this topic.
    #10
    Davydd
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 16:48:44 (permalink)
    FlattedFifth, when you come up with guns blazing you can expect differences of opinion. That was not a problem with me. It is fun to have some discussion and not a cumbyah. But if you trash breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches I will come at ya with a fork.
    #11
    tkitna
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/09 23:50:38 (permalink)
    I cant stand Primanti's Bros. either being that I live near Pittsburgh. Nasty sandwich all around in my opinion. The only way to make one worse is to accompany it with an Iron City.
    #12
    lleechef
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 02:16:02 (permalink)
    I grew up in the Pgh. area and went to college not too far north of there. I ate a lot of Primanti (in the Strip District) sandwiches, never had a bad one. The thing about putting fries on sandwiches and salads is a regional Pgh. thing, either you like it or you don't. I agree with wanderingjew that the key is the choice of meat.
    #13
    Jimeats
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 04:36:11 (permalink)
    Iron City, Now thats some real crap {imho}. It must be an aquired taste because I've tryed it a few times and just couldn't warm up to it. Chow Jim
    #14
    Davydd
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 11:13:52 (permalink)
    Would there be a difference in location for Primanti Bros.? I am only familiar with the Strip location.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 11:26:01 (permalink)
    I've never been to Primanti Brothers. Let me get that said at the start. However, when someone from Pittsburgh opened a sandwich shop here some years ago I, never having heard of Primanti Brothers, went to get a sandwich. I looked at the menu board and ordered a pastrami sandwich. Then I watched in horror as the sandwich maker began to put it together. The first thing I noticed was that he had slices of some sort of white bread. I stopped him and said I ordered pastrami. Pastrami does not go on Italian bread. I was told they only used sliced Italian bread. Then I saw him heap some sliced meat, and then french fries, and then, even more horrible that fries, cole slaw and tomato. I told the man that I did not want potatoes,cole slaw or tomato on a pastrami sandwich and he replied that this was the only way they made sandwiches. Having ordered the sandwich I paid the bill and left -- without that horrible concoction. That restaurant didn't last three months.
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    Pancho
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 11:35:35 (permalink)
    Forget all this....I'm headed over to Casmento's on Magazine for a dozen and a oyster loaf. You know, I never really liked fries anyway....until Thrasher's on the boardwalk in Ocean City. The best...
    #17
    BigAl72
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 12:26:31 (permalink)
    I was in Pittsburgh for a weekend this July, and before I left I had to go Primanti's. I'm from the NY area, so I have definite preferences about sandwiches, and they don't include soft white bread, or french fries on the sandwich. That being said, I ordered a roast beef and cheese, and it definitely hit the spot. The bread was soft, but thick enough to hold everything reasonably well. There wasn't a lot of meat, but it was definitely there, and well cooked. I think you can order double meat, if you want a thicker layer of it. I thought the fries were fine. In a sandwich you really don't need crispness. Also the cole slaw was perfect. A slaw with mayo would definitely not have worked.

    In all, it's definitely not something I'm craving to eat anytime soon, but I thought it was a perfect tasty meal to have before I drove back 4 hours to DC.
    #18
    mayor al
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 14:26:52 (permalink)


    I will say that when it comes to ordering this sort of special thing. I may try the recommended dish once or twice, but I don't care for the FF AND/OR the Slaw on the Sandwich. Even with BBQ I usually order the 'plate' or platter' rather than the sandwich , if the business puts the slaw ON the sandwich. (Same with Sauce--On the Side Please)!
    #19
    mr chips
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 15:05:54 (permalink)
    I had Primanti Brother's sandwiches at PNC park and the location near the University of Pittsburgh. I loved the sandwiches, my wife and son did not and my son ordered a sandwich with the fries outside when it was offered. I compliment all on keeping the discussion civil.
    #20
    saps
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 15:17:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    I've never been to Primanti Brothers. Let me get that said at the start. However, when someone from Pittsburgh opened a sandwich shop here some years ago I, never having heard of Primanti Brothers, went to get a sandwich. I looked at the menu board and ordered a pastrami sandwich. Then I watched in horror as the sandwich maker began to put it together. The first thing I noticed was that he had slices of some sort of white bread. I stopped him and said I ordered pastrami. Pastrami does not go on Italian bread. I was told they only used sliced Italian bread. Then I saw him heap some sliced meat, and then french fries, and then, even more horrible that fries, cole slaw and tomato. I told the man that I did not want potatoes,cole slaw or tomato on a pastrami sandwich and he replied that this was the only way they made sandwiches. Having ordered the sandwich I paid the bill and left -- without that horrible concoction. That restaurant didn't last three months.


    You can actually put any kind of meat on any type of bread.
    #21
    Pancho
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 17:00:36 (permalink)
    Oh, yeah?
    #22
    Nemis
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 20:22:25 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    Pastrami does not go on Italian bread.

    Classic!
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    phatphil
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/10 20:27:17 (permalink)
    i dont like primanti brothers in pittsburgh either, i love the two in florida though
    #24
    RibRater
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/11 04:28:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by saps

    You can actually put any kind of meat on any type of bread.




    You can, but that doesn't make it right.
    #25
    salsailsa
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/11 13:25:35 (permalink)
    I eat what tastes good. If I take a bite and don't like it, I don't bother eating it. I have had french fries on my sandwich in France- they do it all over there. I didn't care for it too much. It made the sandwich too dry. Although I haven't tried Primanti's, the sandwich looked darn good. I would order it and just get them to hold the fries.
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    HollyDolly
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/11 15:36:34 (permalink)
    I've never had any of their sandwiches.I would not care for colelsaw and french fries on mine.Of course,people in other parts of the country would not care for barbacoa,which is beef check meat from the cow's head either or it can be the whole roast cow's head.It's popular here in Texas and many people buy it especially for a Sunday breakfast treat.Just as they wouldn't care for menudo a spicy stew made with tripe.I think everyone has a right to their opinion.My friend Nancy can't stand fish,but I love it. It does make it difficult to pick places to eat when we get together,since there are things i like and she doesn't.
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    Pancho
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/11 15:45:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by HollyDolly

    I've never had any of their sandwiches.I would not care for colelsaw and french fries on mine.Of course,people in other parts of the country would not care for barbacoa,which is beef check meat from the cow's head either or it can be the whole roast cow's head.It's popular here in Texas and many people buy it especially for a Sunday breakfast treat.Just as they wouldn't care for menudo a spicy stew made with tripe.I think everyone has a right to their opinion.My friend Nancy can't stand fish,but I love it. It does make it difficult to pick places to eat when we get together,since there are things i like and she doesn't.
    Try it you'll like it! Nothing better a Sunday morning....well...
    #28
    lo-in -the -keys
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/15 16:08:27 (permalink)
    Lived in Pgh for 45 years and am here now visiting. I will definitely NOT be visiting Primanti's. I, too, cannot figure the love affair with Primanti's. I could pass it off as nostalgia from our college days of 3:00am after bar crawls need for food. That doesn't explain today's popularity or mystique.
    I think that people think they have to like it or there is something wrong with them. The french fries are truly dreadfully soggy and the meats are not top notch. I will say the Italian Bread good,as is the cole slaw. But all together it becomes a soggy mess. Thanks for you r post and letting me get in my 2 cents worth.
    Oh and where in Florida?? Not that I'd go.
    #29
    phatphil
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    RE: I don't like Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh 2006/09/16 17:55:23 (permalink)
    theres one on sunrise and a1a in ft lauderdale right on the beachfront and one on oakland park blvd a mile west of 95 in ft lauderdale, both do very well and the beach is open 24/7/365
    #30
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