Review: Primanti Brothers

I was up in Cranberry on Sunday (at Work, sadly). The good news is that it gave me a chance to stop at Primanti Brothers in Cranberry. This Primanti Brothers is one of the full-restaurant versions that presents itself as a family restaurant that happens to specialize in Pittsburgh Sandwiches. While I’m a bit of a health not, and not the best person to be reviewing Primanti Brothers, I do want to give the obligatory nod to a Pittsburgh Tradition.

Photo thanks to Primanti Brothers

Primanti Brothers on Urbanspoon

Primanti Brothers (Cranberry)
200 Executive Dr
Cranberry Township, PA 16066
(724) 772-5757

My quick and dirty take. I give them a 3.5 for food and a 4.0 for atmosphere (both on a scale of 5). Although my health-tard tendencies crept up and drove me to order what was likely the least representative item on the menu, the waitress was fun and attentive. My meal, a full-size garden salad, was better than expected but nothing to write home about. I would love to go back with some friends at a time when I’m feeling a little bit more like being unhealthy and ordering what they’re known for: a sandwich.I’m not fit to properly review this place. As I alluded in my quick take, I wimped out and stuck with a salad. I’m a salad person, and I actually think that the quality of a salad says quite a bit about a restaurant. Anyone can make a big sandwich with fries piled on the side look exciting, but it takes some focus to create a really great salad. There are two ways to screw up a salad: 1) serve up a bowl full of iceberg lettuce and throw some mealy tomato slices and a bunch of cheese on top (far too boring), or 2) place a few pieces of lettuce in the bottom of a bowl and top with a pound of chopped up [your greasy entree of choice] covered with cheese, fries, and anything else that might cover up the fact that what lies beneath is a salad. Obviously those are two extremes, but they drive home a point: you want to end up somewhere in the middle. When I order a salad, I expect to get a full bowl of lettuce with something exciting and somewhat healthy on top. I expected Primanti brothers to err on the side of not-really-a-salad, so I stuck with a garden salad. I was pleasantly surprised by the result. There were actual vegetables in the salad, and the quantity of cheese was fairly reasonable (and not melted into the lettuce, thank you). Granted, I asked for no fries (proving that I’m not really from Pittsburgh). Next time, I would show some trust and order an entry salad. In fact, I would probably go all out an order a sandwich.

My thoughts on the Pittsburgh Sandwich. When I was in college, my parents came to visit one weekend. Being a student at CMU who was anything but healthy and making weekly stops at “The O,” I took them to the Primanti Brother’s in Market Square. At I time when I was less calorie-conscious, I enjoyed my Pittsburgh Sandwich–complete with fries and coleslaw–and it was good. The actual sandwich was well-balanced, and I am a strong supporter of the crunch of a coleslaw.

On coleslaw. If you haven’t had a Primanti Brother’s sandwich, the coleslaw isn’t what you might expect. Relatively thick pieces of cabbage are coated with oil and little bits of black pepper for a nice crunch with the added aroma of the pepper really coming out. I still think that time of coleslaw is a welcome addition to any kind of sandwich.

Image thanks to MenuPages of Philadelphia

Image thanks to MenuPages of Philadelphia

Just do it. If you haven’t tried Primanti Brothers, go for it. I think it’s safe to say that there’s something wrong with living in Pittsburgh and not knowing what lies beyond all the Primanti Brothers lore.

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2 Responses to “Review: Primanti Brothers”

  1. Burghilicious Says:
    September 24th, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    [...] to take vegetarians or places where the healthy food won’t make you sad. The post about ordering a salad at Primanti’s is one of my favorites. Mike also organizes the FoodBurgh Meetup, which travels around to different [...]

  2. Joel Says:
    December 6th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I will be in Pitt and at Cranberry next week, I have been wanting to get one of these Sandwich’s for so long and now I won’t have to go down to the strip to get one (though getting one at the original would be realy cool) I think you have to get the local food special wherever you go, I am in the Chicago area and if here it think it is required that you eat at least one Chicago dog ( with the work, dont hold the peppers) and at least one Itilian Beef with the Gardiner and extra juice. Just get plenty of napkins and learn the stoop.

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