Primanti Brothers

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Primanti Brothers
Primanti Bros. logo.svg
Pittsburgh Strip District Primanti Bros.jpg
The storefront of the original Primanti Bros. in the Strip District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Restaurant information
Owner(s)L Catterton
Food typeNorth American cuisine sandwich shop
Dress codeCasual
CountryUnited States
Coordinates40°27′2.55″N 79°59′8.12″W / 40.4507083°N 79.9855889°W / 40.4507083; -79.9855889Coordinates: 40°27′2.55″N 79°59′8.12″W / 40.4507083°N 79.9855889°W / 40.4507083; -79.9855889
(original Strip District location)
Primanti Brothers sandwich
Primanti Bros at PNC Park.jpg
Place of originUnited States
Region or statePennsylvania (mainly western)
Created byPrimanti Brothers
Main ingredientsgrilled meat, melted cheese, an oil & vinegar-based coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries (on the sandwich) between two thick slices of Italian bread

Primanti Brothers (/prɪˈmænti/, locally /pər-/) is a chain of sandwich shops in the eastern United States, founded in and most closely associated with, as a cultural icon of, Pittsburgh. Founded in 1933, the chain is known for its signature sandwiches of grilled meat, melted cheese, an oil & vinegar-based coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries between two thick slices of Italian bread.[1]

During the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards, Primanti's was named as one of "America's Classic" restaurants.[2]


The original shop is located at 46 18th Street in Pittsburgh's Strip District, a busy area along the Allegheny River that was once filled with factories, warehouses, and produce yards. According to the restaurant, Joe Primanti, born in suburban Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, invented the sandwich during the Great Depression. His brothers, Dick and Stanley, later joined him. The Primantis opened their diner at Smallman Street and 18th Street in the Strip District and served the late-night and early-morning workers who were unloading fish, fruits, and vegetables.[3]

The tradition of the signature sandwiches (typically ordered by number based on a "menu" written on a huge chalkboard behind the counter) was to combine the sandwich and side of fries, held (grilled) together with eggs as a binding unit, straight from the grill into a hoagie bun. The sandwich was then wrapped in a sheet of newspaper and handed to the customer. This was done so the customer could then go back to his (hopefully loaded) truck and drive back to his shop while managing to eat the sandwich while driving without getting it all over his lap.

With the passing of Stanley Primanti in the early-1970s and John in 1974, Dick decided to sell the business to Jim Patrinos in 1975. Today there are 16 Pittsburgh locations, including at the city's major sports venues PNC Park, Heinz Field, and the PPG Paints Arena, as well as several other locations throughout the eastern United States.[4]

In recent years it has become tradition for Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Draft Picks to visit the original Primanti Brothers location in the Strip District, Pittsburgh Upon their arrival in Pittsburgh. Notable picks include 2017 NFL Draft 1st round pick T. J. Watt and 2nd round pick, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and 2019 NFL Draft first round pick, Devin Bush Jr.

Sports-themed specials[edit]

The chain expressed its support for the Pittsburgh Penguins during their back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in their 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons, releasing two limited-time sandwiches in their honor. In 2016, it released a limited-time sandwich honoring the team's third line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel, named the "HBK Sandwich".[5] Late into the next season, the chain then introduced a sandwich called the "Canadian Pitts-Burger", honoring goaltender Marc-André Fleury during his eventually final season with the Penguins. The sandwich featured Canadian bacon and was also available at all Primanti Brothers locations for a limited time.[6]


Primanti Brothers location in Oakland.

Primanti Brothers locations are found throughout Pennsylvania, particularly in and around Pittsburgh. In addition to other Pennsylvania locations, restaurants have been established in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan and Indiana.[7][8]


The Primanti Bros. Pitts-Burger sandwich. The AA battery, used as a size reference, is 2 inches (5 cm) tall.

The restaurant and its signature sandwich have been featured in several national publications and television shows, including National Geographic magazine,[9] Man v. Food,[10] and Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America. Primanti Brothers made the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's list of "1,000 Places to See Before You Die in the USA and Canada",[11] and their sandwich is a featured Pittsburgh landmark on Yinztagram.[12]

The restaurant was mentioned on the April 21, 2008, episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in an interview with Senator Barack Obama. Stewart suggested that Obama visit the restaurant for their "great sandwiches", which Stewart had enjoyed as a comedian on the club circuit.[13]

An rating of PNC Park mentioned that "the best [concession] item is the famous Primanti Brothers sandwich, a Pittsburgh institution", and granted this "signature concession item" an exuberant score of "5+++" (out of 5). This helped PNC Park to achieve its overall #1 ranking in the feature.[14]

Credit card error[edit]

On March 9, 2011, U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone approved a settlement between Primanti Brothers and a customer in response to a lawsuit over the content of credit card receipts. In the suit, the plaintiff, Nora Hoxha, claimed that the restaurant's credit card receipts printed all, or if not all, too many digits of a customer's credit card number in violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. As part of the settlement, the restaurant agreed to provide affected customers with a free menu item and a side item or non-alcoholic drink. The restaurant also agreed to make a donation of $25,000 to the Carnegie Museums and pay up to $62,000 for the plaintiff's attorneys' costs.[15]


  1. ^ Primanti Brothers Archived 2016-08-26 at the Wayback Machine, Pittsburgh Restaurant Reviews,
  2. ^ "The James Beard Foundation Awards". The James Beard Foundation. 2007. Archived from the original on June 8, 2007. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "Our Story". Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Locations". Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Primanti's honors Penguins' HBK line with sandwich". Tribune–Review. Trib Total Media. May 19, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "In honor of Marc-Andre Fleury: Primanti's Pitts-Burger goes Canadian". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  7. ^ Briggs, James (January 29, 2016). "California Pizza Kitchen to be replaced by sandwich shop at Circle Centre". Indy Star. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Strauss, Chris (October 24, 2014). "Pittsburgh's famous Primanti's sandwiches can now be shipped anywhere in the U.S." USA Today. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  9. ^ Kadushin, Raphael (August 2003). "15222: Come Hungry". National Geographic: 114–122. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
  10. ^ "Man v. Food in Pittsburgh". Man v. Food. The Travel Channel. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  11. ^ "Travel Briefs: 1,000 more places to see before you die". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 10 June 2007.
  12. ^ "Yinztagram By Pegula". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  13. ^ "Barack Obama Pt. 2". The Daily Show. Comedy Central. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  14. ^ Caple, Jim. "Pittsburgh's gem rates the best". Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  15. ^ "Primanti to provide free sandwiches to settle suit". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.

External links[edit]