Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Primanti Brothers, Grove City PA

Here at Pizza Quixote, we are delighted to bring you a guest review from:

“The Franklin Expedition…

Searching for the Northwest (Pa.) Pizza Passage” *

Surprisingly good…

It was almost like a recipe for getting a subpar pizza: (1) The restaurant specializes in something else; (2) it’s not even the original restaurant, but a branch location; (3) that location is adjacent to an outlet mall and an Interstate highway; (4) it’s in Western Pennsylvania, where if you type P and I, the culinary ‘autocomplete’ goes to “Pierogi” instead of “Pizza.”  Nevertheless, the pizza we got at the Primanti Brothers’ location in Grove City, Pennsylvania, was very good. 

Primanti Brothers - Grove City on Urbanspoon
Primanti Bros. is a Pittsburgh institution that has opened branches in a number of towns throughout western Pa.  It is famous for its sandwiches, which come with side orders of cole slaw and French fries…stuffed into the sandwich itself.  If you’ve ever watched a telecast of a Steelers game, when they do those cut-aways to commercial and show some local scene of interest, you’ve probably seen them being made.  Primanti’s sandwiches occupy the same iconic position in Pittsburgh that Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks do in Philadelphia. 

Finding ourselves at the Grove City Outlet Mall during an uncharacteristic outbreak of retail shopping, we decided to try a Primanti’s sandwich.  The original location, in Pittsburgh’s justly renowned ‘strip district,’ always has a line waiting to get in, and there are so many great places to eat in the strip, why wait in line for a sandwich?  Nonetheless, this branch of the restaurant started earning points as soon as we ventured in—the staff was friendly and pleasant, the beverage list included brewed cider, and our waitress was extremely helpful.  

We determined that two sandwiches were going to be just too much food (Italian bread, two fillings—in our case, capicola and provolone, and, of course, a pile of slaw and a handful of fries), so we ordered one to split, then asked about the pizza.  The waitress was effusive in her enthusiasm, so we ordered one, but kept our expectations low.  (There was some hope—she did mention that her husband, of Italian heritage, liked the pizza, and although she pronounced all four syllables of ‘capicola,’ when we “Jerseyized” the pronunciation, she said, “My husband’s family says it that way.”)  

The sandwich was quite good, although I have to admit that I’d prefer the French fries on the side (yeah, yeah, I know, that’s sort of like asking for Brie on your cheesesteak.)  But the pizza was a revelation.  We’d ordered a small pie with sausage, roasted red peppers, and onions.  All the toppings were tasty, the proportion of sauce and cheese was right, the crust was thick around the cornicione, but thin, crispy, and slightly charred on the inner 80%.  Of course, the pizza was not perfect—the tomato sauce was good rather than great and the peppers seemed as if they may have been sautéed rather than roasted.  Those, however, are quibbles—Pizza will definitely be part of our order anytime we visit Primanti Brothers.    

Overall, this pie is probably a solid “B+” pizza; as we’ve found only one source of “A” pizza since we moved to Western Pennsylvania (Ardolino’s in the South Hills of Pittsburgh), so a “B+” is a welcome discovery. 

*Semi-obscure reference to actual historical event.

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