When I was a student in Avignon, France, in 2005, a sandwicherie in the center city sold what they had dubbed “the American sandwich” — some kind of monster hoagie stuffed with French fries and made with bread that wasn’t a baguette. “That’s unfair, greasy, and stereotypical,” I said. And then I ate a sandwich at Primanti Brothers on a Saturday in the Strip District in Pittsburgh, when the lines were full and the timing was perfect.
There are twenty-one Primanti Bros. locations, but this one’s the original, brimming with Steelers’ fans, spot-on servers, and Toni Haggerty who has been working the grill for almost 40 years. (“Too long!” she grinned at me, then jerked her finger toward the friendly dark-haired man ushering customers to tables. “As long as I’ve been married to him!”)
Toni — as well as Primanti Bros.’s “almost-famous” sandwiches stacked on hearty Italian bread, stuffed with grilled Italian meats, provolone cheese, vinegar-based coleslaw, and a fistful of freshly-made fries — have been featured everywhere from Pittsburgh Magazine to Man Vs. Food.
Go for the food, but leave with the experience.