Primanti Bros. is a Pittsburgh institution. Yeah, you read that right: Pittsburgh. So imagine my surprise when a recent trip down Sunrise led me to a location of this piece of Americana just off the main road on International Drive. Founded in 1933, Primanti Bros. became a citywide favorite when they began to offer stuffed sandwiches filled with your standard meat and cheese along with Cole slaw and French fries. The idea was born when Primanti Bros. was faced with the situation that many of their customers, being truck drivers, could not stop to dine as often since they did not have time to indulge in a full meal. Primanti Bros’ answer to this conundrum was an obvious one; stick a whole meal into a single hand-held package. And thus, the ubiquitous Primanti Bros. sandwich was born.
While this idea may not be as novel to us now, this was quite a big deal in 1933. Still, Primanti Bros. has stuck by the concept that brought them nationwide respect and continues to serve sandwiches in this form. Basically, you choose standard meat filling (corned beef, burger, sausage, tuna, etc) and get stuffed between two thick slices of fresh Italian bread, and nestled alongside made-in-house Cole slaw, fresh French fries, and tomatoes. Although this may seem somewhat simple, Primanti Bros. manages to execute all of the sandwich’s elements to a degree of high caliber, making for a bite that is greater than the sum of its parts. The Italian bread is baked in house and is pillow-like and tender, with a light crumb that is a perfect vehicle for the fillings. Compared to other Cole slaws, the one at Primanti Bros. may even be considered light, since it is vinegar based instead of the mayo dressing ones that we have become accustomed to. The slight tang of the vinegar offsets the starch and grease coming from the fresh-from-the-fryer spuds. The tomato may be the saving grace of this sandwich, as it happens to act as a lubricant that aids when all the other ingredients become too much to handle. The freshness factor is a welcomed one, and one I would not opt out of. The fillings in the sandwich are fresh, but I would opt for going double meat next time. The pastrami I got was satisfying and well spiced, but I found myself fighting to find the flavor of the smoked meat amongst the other ingredients. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich.
Primanti Bros. is a nice change of pace from the Hispanic-filled options we have throughout South Florida. I enjoy Latin food as much as the next person, but sometimes you find yourself classic Americana fare. When this happens, I see myself considering Primanti Bros. as a likely option.
2019 N University Dr Sunrise, FL
By food blogger, Santiago Cardona