Thursday, March 20, 2014

Morgantown Edition: Primanti Bros.

PrimantisSandwiches stacked thick and topped with slaw and a generous portion of house-cut french fries are the name of the game at Primanti Bros.

This iconic Pittsburgh restaurant has humble beginnings as a late-night cart dishing up sandwiches to truckers during the Great Depression. With success, the brothers opened a small storefront on 18th Street. When they happened upon a load of potatoes for the shop, they tried out putting them on sandwiches, and it became their trademark.

Since then, multiple locations have opened: Oakland (near Pitt), South Side, Market Square, PNC Park, Heinz Field, Consol Energy Center and more. It has 17 locations in the greater Pittsburgh area, and three locations in Florida.

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And now, Morgantown, W.Va., is happy to call themselves home to the newest location. Opened just recently, the restaurant sits on the corner of a newly constructed row of buildings in the Suncrest Town Centre.

When Tony and I went, I was expecting the typical long-wait-for-new-Morgantown-restaurant-wait, but I was pleasantly surprised. Despite a full parking lot, our wait time was only about 10 minutes. They churn them out fast here.

The Morgantown location is brand new, so everything is clean and shiny (for now). There's a huge bar area that centers around the whole restaurant and to the left are garage-door type windows that I assume they will open when it's warmer. Oh, and a fire pit.

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They're known for their sandwiches, but they also have wings, pizza, and, of course, beer. The menus vary by location, but they all have these sandwiches - which you can get with salami and cheese, or turkey and cheese, or roast beef and cheese, or pastrami and cheese. Their Pitts-burger is their #2 best seller (I talk about what is #1 at the other location I visited in Robinson).

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To start, I had a beer. And they do have some local beer, which is always nice to see. And we ordered an appetizer of mozzarella wedges. They had a little outline around them so we thought they might be special. They were OK - nothing out of the ordinary here. Mozzarella stick with oozing cheese always makes me happy.

The sandwiches are prepped right in front of the bar area, so that's pretty cool to watch. The other items are shipped through the kitchen. But the sandwich assembly is pretty straightforward - select the meat, add cheese, top with some crunchy, tart coleslaw and then crisp French Fries all on Italian bread. Stick a knife in it (literally) and ship it out.

PrimantisThey are utilitarian. It's basic, requires two hands, and is monstrous. It's designed as this hearty, filling meal that you can eat in one go - instead of reaching for fries or anything else. It's all right on the sandwich. With that said, it's not full of complex flavors or interesting combos - it's a sandwich with meat, cheese, fires and slaw. It's good, for what it is.

The meat is well-seasoned, the slaw is tangy and crunchy, the fries are crispy and hearty. It's tasty.

I hear a good bit of chatter about these sandwiches having that nostalgia aspect and Pittsburghers needing them whenever they go home. But the other ice of the coin is that they're overrated. I think I fall in-between somewhere.

PrimantisIf you're in the mood for a decent sandwich, it's a good option. I did - gasp - add some ketchup to mine for zing and extra flavor. I know that's a cardinal sin, but with all the meat cheese and bread, it's nice to have something to tie it all together. So, it's kind of your average sandwich, supersized, with some added ingredients. I do love the environment - laid-back, boozy and comfortable. Plus local-ish. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Grade: B
Primanti Bros. on Urbanspoon