What's with the fries in Pittsburgh's Primanti Bros. sandwiches?

PITTSBURGH — Did you ever wonder how French fries made it onto the sandwiches at Pittsburgh's iconic Primanti Bros.? Let's start with the history of the sandwich shop chain.

How did Primanti Bros. come to be?

Founded by Joe Primanti during the Great Depression, the business that now consists of numerous locations in the Pittsburgh region and beyond started out as a humble sandwich cart.

As the cart’s reputation as a place to go for hearty and delicious sandwiches spread through the busy Strip District, sales took off.

Recognizing the opportunity to grow, Primanti partnered with his brothers and opened the first Primanti Bros. storefront at 18th and Smallman streets in the Strip District. Open from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, it was there that the Almost Famous sandwich was born.

Primanti retired in the 1940s. His family kept the business until the 1970s, when Jim Patrinos purchased the restaurant and expanded to more locations.

What separates Primanti Bros. from other sandwich shops?

Fries! It’s all about the fries … and cole slaw!

Primanti's Almost Famous sandwiches are filled with a choice of beef, turkey or pork -- or try it with all three -- and cheese.

Oh yeah, did we mention the fries and cole slaw? Those aren’t sides. They go right onto the sandwich.

All of that goes between slices of Italian bread.

Alright. So what’s with the fries? How did they end up on the sandwiches?

According to Primanti’s cousin, John DiPriter, the story behind the fries is quite simple.

“One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of 'em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches,” the Primanti Bros. website quotes DiPriter.

What else is on the Primanti Bros. menu?

Wings, pizza, fries and a variety of snacks and appetizers are available, though the menu varies by location. And if the Almost Famous sandwich isn't your speed, there are hamburgers and fish sandwiches.

Does Primanti Bros. only exist in Pittsburgh?

While it started out in Pittsburgh, the chain has expanded beyond the city -- and state of Pennsylvania, for that matter.

While Pennsylvania is home to the largest number of locations, people can also get a taste of Primanti’s in Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan.