Last Wednesday I was up bright and early in my hometown in suburban Pittsburgh, waiting out my Dad’s heart bypass procedure, when the need for breakfast arose. Looking at a good three hours to kill, I persuaded my brother that the best possible way to support the old man’s ordeal would be to leave our sister on watch and head down the hill to Chub’s Place for a particularly Pittsburghian form of arterial abuse–the french fry sandwich.
No, not this monstrosity. A french fry sandwich at Chub’s is built from two slices of spongy fresh Mancini’s Italian bread girding some slab of griddled protein, with peppered vinegar coleslaw, tomato, and melted provolone, all topped by a mess of thick, hand-cut fried spuds. Credit for inventing this model goes to the famous Primanti Bros., which opened in 1933 in the city’s Strip District and has unspooled a chain of 16 shops (including two in Florida). I can’t say if that expansion is responsible for the general decline in the Primanti sandwich, but the fact is, it ain’t what it used to be. That’s usually attributable to undercooked, soggy fries, which not only degrade the bread but can lead to some particularly uncomfortable physical consequences, as the sandwiches are very frequently consumed during periods of impaired judgment.
Chub’s opened in 1978 at the foot of a Par 3 golf course, and I ate there before I had my first Primanti’s experience, so that’s pretty much been my benchmark anyway. I’m happy to say my 7:30 AM capicola sandwich arrived with thick, crispy hand-cut fries, as did my brother’s hot sausage and egg, both inducing a loagy, dreamlike state that made the next few hours in the hospital waiting room pass by like a slow dream.
The old man meets a group of pals at Chub’s every once in a while–not often enough to blame the trouble with his left anterior descending artery on the place. But since he sailed through surgery and is on his feet already I don’t imagine it’ll be too long before he’s back.
Chub’s Place, 810 Ingomar Rd., Wexford, PA, 412-367-5852