Primanti Bros.: The Taste of Pittsburgh Will Be a Hit
Primanti Bros. on 130 Hiester St. is finally here, and it has arrived with a good bit of fanfare. The restaurant is set to open for its first lunch service at 3 p.m. today. Two of our writers, a skeptic and a Primanti’s veteran, got invited to its VIP pre-opening last night to test the waters. They left quite pleased.
The Skeptic — Tim Gilbert:
As a Philly native, I’m the aforementioned skeptic. To be honest, I was a little sick of all the Pittsburgh folks around here talking about how great Primanti’s is all the time, and didn’t think its famous sandwiches seemed anything too special — perhaps a step above Are U Hungry but nothing compared to a nice Beaver Burger.
Of course, these were great misgivings. Primanti’s was a phenomenal dining experience, and I’m sure it’ll become one of the more popular pregame spots in town, given its location and top flight happy hour.
We were ambushed with food during our three-hour stay, and most of it was delicious. Of the items that will be on its menu today, the pizza, Italian sandwiches, and Primanti’s sandwiches were keepers, while the wings were mediocre (it was built on the grounds of the G-Man, after all). I chose the pastrami variety of Primanti’s sandwich, and it was one of those “holy shit this is amazing” moments during my first bite. I’m grateful for whoever thought of the combination of coleslaw, bacon, and french fries on a sandwich, because it’s god damn delicious.
But, like I was, most of you are probably more interested in how Primanti’s will fit into your bar options for a typical Friday night. As I mentioned above, I can’t think of a reason it shouldn’t be a popular stop. Located within two minutes of both the Beaver Canyon apartment mecca and a slew of popular spots like the Den and Gaff, its 10 p.m. to midnight half-off everything happy hour will help it compete. During happy hour, you can get $2 Fireball shots and tall boys while watching the sport of your choice — and the staff guarantees it’ll put whatever game you’d like on one of its 19 (!) televisions. Further, its kitchen is open past the time the bar closes, entering its sandwiches into competition with Canyon.
There’s a great sports bar ambiance at Primanti’s, too — the exact atmosphere a spot like Bar Bleu fails to bring to the downtown bar scene. Pennsylvania legends, from Taylor Swift to Joe Paterno, are painted on a few murals in the bar, while the walls are loaded with unique sports decor. I have a hard time imagining Primanti’s empty when Penn State football is on the road or the Eagles are playing.
State College’s bar scene had a need for a spot like Primanti’s, and it delivers where it should. Owner David Head said he hopes it sticks around for 100 years, and unless Penn State students suddenly stop liking cheap, convenient specials, it most certainly will.
The Veteran — Jon Deasy:
As a Pittsburgher, I am always skeptical about a different Primanti’s that isn’t centrally located in downtown Pittsburgh. In the Steel City, the people of Primanti’s are absolute “yinzers,” but the staff in State College was different. Upon first arrival, I asked if I could have a number one and two — of course that means, “let me get the number one and two best seller,” an I.C. Light and a cheesesteak. Unfortunately, the staff didn’t quite understand the slang and they weren’t serving cheesesteaks last night either. Nonetheless, I opted to grab a Yuengling instead because I.C. is, well, I.C. Light. Needless to say, this isn’t your typical Primanti Bros.
This Primanti’s is the new spot in town where everyone should pregame. As Tim mentioned, the happy hour deal is absolutely insane and needs to be taken advantage of along with its 19 TVs. It produces an atmosphere that’s a little more mellow than the G-Man, but it’s exactly what’s State College needs. With so many different drinks, it’s hard to find something you won’t like. The tap selection is very impressive, I might add, with 48 different taps and 24 different draft choices.
Like I said earlier, I didn’t get a number two seller, but rest assured I can imagine it is exactly the same as you would get in the Strip. The Mancini’s bread arrives fresh daily, the cole slaw is made every other day, and the fries give off that Potato Patch taste. I tried a pastrami sandwich and it tasted exactly the same. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the wings — they tasted like your typical wing, nothing special.
As far as beverages go, I did try one of its signature drunk ducks. I’m not a huge fan of vodka and it tasted a little light, but these drinks are something everyone should try at least once. If you’re a little short on cash, no need to stress, they can be purchased on Saturdays when they hand them out pitcher-style for only $6.
This Primanti’s gives off that Pittsburgh vibe, but it’s slightly altered in a way to appeal to the local interest. Upon walking in, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the typical Primanti’s cartoon wall, filled with all the Pittsburgh legends such as Mario Lemieux, Ben Roethlisberger, and Willie Stargell. However, there are a lot of other people you may find on the wall such as Will Smith and Joe Paterno, along with other notable Pennsylvanians. They definitely appeal to the local interest, so rest assured Philly fans, you can still watch your miserable sports teams here.
I try not to be biased when reviewing restaurants, even if they are close to my heart like Primanti’s, but it is no joke when I mention this place has potential to be one of the best bars in State College. Apparently, Primanti’s has been trying to get into State College for the last 15 years, so as a senior, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.