Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Trip to Pittsburgh: Primanti Brothers

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So, after a long morning of shopping in the Strip District where do you go at lunch for a true taste of Pittsburgh? If you’ve seen any Primanti Brothers. The famous sandwich shop that started the Pittsburgh tradition of putting the coleslaw and the french fries right on top of the sandwich. This was my first trip to Primanti’s; though not my first p-burgh style sandwich.

Atmosphere:
The restaurant appears to be your standard bar/grill. It’s tucked into one of the older buildings in the Strip where it’s been for something like 90 years. It’s cramped, there are long wooden booths tucked against the walls and battered and scarred wooden tables scattered throughout the restaurant. It gives the whole place an ambient friendliness. There are actually two sides to the restaurant; on one is the grill behind the bar so folks can watch their food being made and on the houses a bar and several TVs (during our Monday daytime visit they were tuned to the Ryder cup and ESPN).
The restaurant oozes casualness. The menus were large print signs on the walls throughout the restaurant and I’m 98% certain I only saw people get silverware with soup. Overall it was a nice relaxed place to grab lunch. My one issue with the atmosphere was that it was self seating (which is not a problem by itself), but someone in the front room was shouting/being generally unpleasant at folks to just take a seat in the back where the were no open tables. If you’re going to tell people to go sit in the back someone should sort of be paying attention to whether tables are available.

The Eats:

Ok so the famous sandwiches.
The cross section of this gigantic sandwich

After some serious debate I decided on the corned beef. Usually when I’m having a Pittsburgh style sandwiches I’m having fried fish, but I was worried that the bread wouldn’t be able to stand up to fish. So corned beef. I love that the sandwiches came out on wax paper; it was totally laid back and I’m sure it makes cleaning up a breeze.
First, the things I loved. The bread itself was very good; it was soft, squishy, and everything good Italian bread should be. The corned beef was tasty, well seasoned, and warm. And the french fries had a good flavor. And in general the corned, beef, tomatoes, and vinegary coleslaw were all good together.
Second, the things I wasn’t a fan of. The fries had good flavor, but mine were cold and sort of mushy. I wasn’t expecting super crisp. but hot with a little texture would’ve been good. The other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the coleslaw; let me preface this by saying that most of the time I love Pittsburgh style coleslaw, but the slaw at Primanti’s was way overpowering. The coleslaw had a great crunch and added good texture, but it tasted like the flavor or the cabbage overpowered the vinegar and other spices.
It was a good experience for the most part, but I’m not sure I’d do it again. In the future I’d rather go to the Back Door Tavern in New Brighton. The have great food and an extensive beer list.

=)

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FoodFest2010: The Strip District and Grandma’s Birthday

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So here’s your history lesson for today. Pittsburgh’s Strip District dates back to the early 19th century when it was home to mills and factories. The area has weathered the Great Depression and eventually the area shifted focus from steel to wholesale produce and now to “urbanization” with clubs, restaurants, and specialty shops crammed in amongst the local royalty. That is the end of the history lesson.

Monday morning we left my grandmother’s bright and early to visit The Strip. Two parents, one brother, two uncles, two aunts, one cousin, and me; nine people in two cars once everyone was settled for the drive (My grandma was supposed to go as well but wasn’t feeling well and wanted to rest before her big celebration dinner). The drive from my grandmother’s to downtown P-burgh is b-e-a-utiful, especially in the fall. It’s through the mountains and over several rivers, you have to cross both the Ohio River and the Beaver River as well as a few smaller rivers I can never remember the names of. The water is usually slate gray in the fall, almost the same color as the sky only darker. This backdrop makes the trees and leaves more vivid. Despite the constant rain and no sun it really is a beautiful time of year to visit Pennsylvania. And I now I’m boring myself with all the talk about the leaves. So…

Getting to the food and the shopping. We started out at Mon Amiee, actually that’s not true… our first stop was at a street vendor selling Steelers/Pens gear. Mom got a t-shirt and a couple people got sweatshirts, because it was a lot colder out than they thought it would be. Then we dashed into De Luca’s to use their bathroom (this is a big no-no, but it was a long car ride). We’ve been to De Luca’s before; it’s very inviting on a cold day. Filled with bright colors, fantastic food, and friendly staff; it’s one of the institutions on the Strip. We hit another Pittsburgh merchandise store (Yinzerville) where Mom bought Steelers drink umbrellas and a really cute gift for one of the cutest munchkins on earth (but I can’t give it away cause I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a Christmas gift). Then we went to Mon Amiee.

Previously they’ve stocked these crazy good salted caramels, but they did not have them. I got a chocolate bar, with bacon. I didn’t buy anything else because the cashier/manager was kind of snippy and rude. I haven’t tried the chocolate bar yet, it’s still in my purse, but I’m totally looking forward to it.

Next up was Enrico Biscotti. OMG. Can I just tell you these people have the best biscotti on the place of effing planet. I buy  a dozen and freeze them and then pull them out one at a time to enjoy as a special treat. The bakery is warm and inviting and it smells absolutely amazing. It’s totally the kind of place you’d want to linger with a cookie and a cup of coffee, if the whole store wasn’t the size of my kitchen. Whatever, doesn’t matter, they still produce some of the best cookies I’ve eaten. They also have biscotti baking classes, for those of you who live anywhere near the store. And they ship! So yay for that.

Our group tumbled back out onto the street and made our way to the Pennsylvania Macaroni company. I have been to this store before, but it never ceases to amaze me. It’s part grocery store, part specialty market. The closest thing we have in Tampa is Whole Foods, but even that is anywhere near the same as experiencing this store. Let’s just go with the pictures…

As soon as you walk in the door they have barrels of dry goods and bins of spices. It smells fantastic; like every Italian kitchen I’ve ever been in times about 100.
They had a whole wall of extracts and flavored oils.
And racks and racks of olive oil.
OMG! So this just amazed me. They had canisters of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and people were just coming in and filling bottles, wither ones they bought at the store or refilling the ones they brought in from home.
There st least two containers of both Italian and Spanish olive oil.
They also have an entire room of fresh cheese, meats, olives, and prepared food.
This was my other favorite part. They were selling freshly made pasta in the produce section. The had everything from traditional spaghetti to cilantro & lime linguine.

We stopped for lunch at Primanti Brother’s. That’s another post though. After lunch we made our way down the rest of the strip. Wholey’s Grocery, Fudgie Wudgie’s a totally fab candy store that always has really creative chocolate dipped creations, more Steelers’ stores and I finally got a t-shirt, and an interesting kitchen supply store. There are tons of other stores in the area that I’m sure we missed, but it was time to pack it in and head back to Grandma’s.
It was a good afternoon, there were more Snyder’s Chips. Have I mentioned that my family loves those? We always seem to congregate around the dining room table and we spent the afternoon talking and helping some of my younger cousins with homework. By the time everything was wrapped up it was almost time to go to dinner.
We had dinner at Pagley’s Pasta & More in New Castle, Pennsylvania. All said and done with aunts, uncles, grandkids, great-grandkids, and extended family there were almost thirty people jammed around two tables. It’s always good when we all have dinner together like this, but it is difficult to talk to everyone. The food was pretty good. My Dad definitely hit the jackpot with angel hair with garlic oil, hot sausage, and hot peppers. It was tasty, but I don’t think I could’ve eaten the whole bowl. It was really spicy. I had veal piccata; it was good.

The veal was crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. The sauce was creamy and tangy and full of lemon flavor. It was very good. It came with pasta which was not as good as the veal.

I for got until I was uploading pictures: I also had pasta e fagioli, it was very good. The soup was rich, creamy, tomatoy, and cheesy. I also forgot to take a picture of it until I was done. My Bad.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and had cake. Everybody wish Grandma a belated Happy Birthday.

After dinner most people trekked back to Grandma’s. We spent the rest of the night talking and eating pumpkin flavored whoopee pies and traditional Italian cookies. It was a good way to spend our last night in Pennsylvania.

Smiles. =)