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mesaSteeler
03-01-2009, 10:18 AM
Dining Behind Enemy Lines
by Jeff Endress
http://lakewoodobserver.com/read/5/4/dining-behind-enemy-linesby-jeff-endress
ONE STACKED SANDWICH

Cleveland has long been thought of as a sports town -- not because of the multitude of championships over the past decades (let’s not forget the Crunch), but rather an allegiance of the fan base to the various franchises: Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. We’ve now had yet another Super Bowl in which the Browns were not participants. Another occasion for warm beers and cold pizza. Another occasion for, “Wait till next year.” One more year where I have to forego writing with recipes for a Browns Super Bowl party.

For a good many years, I counted myself among those rabid followers of the Cleveland Browns and reminisce fondly about the frost-bite suffered during the double overtime victory over the Jets in below zero temperatures. While in recent years my physical attendance to watch games has given way to more comfortable climes for the same purpose, I nevertheless feel compelled to exercise that Sunday ritual. It was a ritual that I believed should be passed on to my children and in an endeavor to do so, when the Brown’s were reborn from the ashes of mediocrity in 1999, along with my PSL, I also obtained Dawg Pound seats.

My intent was to make them available to my then, high school aged son so that he and a friend could accompany us to tail gates and ball games, and learn what it means to be devoted to the City’s flagship franchise; but, after two years of inviting, asking, and cajoling only to be rebuffed with responses of, “football is a dumb game,” I finally gave up those Dawg Pound seats, convinced that Jason would never understand how football, much like a tick, can get under your skin.

Time has passed and that teenaged son is now in his mid-20’s. As fate would have it, he has taken up residence in of all places, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The home to our ARCH ENEMIES: the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers! I find that I must count myself an utter and complete failure as a father because now, that son who eschewed sporting events and particularly football has become a card carrying fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And they at least get to go to the playoffs every now and then. Sometimes they even reach the Holy Grail of sporting events, the Super Bowl. So, while we were forced to watch those dreaded Steelers, and drink our warm, tear laden beer during Super Bowl LXIII, my thoughts turned back to a recent excursion to Pittsburgh to spend some time with him over the New Year's Holiday. While there, we decided to take in some of the sights and sounds of his new home city.

Like spies, Mangini undercover agents, we descended into a city that was in the midst of Playoff fever, something most living Browns fans have only read and dreamt about. It seemed as if every truck and car sported some kind of Steeler paraphernalia, bumper sticker, flag, or helmet. Even though there was no game scheduled that weekend, most of the throngs we encountered wore Steelers jerseys, parkas, hats, and gloves. Every jersey bore foreign sounding, alien names, like Palamalu and Roethlisberger. We headed down to the strip district (not to be confused with exotic clubs, but rather with its former use as an industrial strip) where we found ourselves at the Primanti Brothers Bar and Restaurant, an original depression era establishment in Pittsburgh, made famous by its humongous sandwiches and reasonable prices.

Unfortunately as we walked in, in much the same way as the Sportsman in downtown Cleveland features a mural of Jim Brown following a Gene Hickerson block, the Premonte Brothers features a mural of Chuck Knoll and the Steel Curtain, an artistic depiction of Franco Harris’ “Immaculate reception” and Terry Bradshaw lofting an end zone pass to Stallworth (against the Browns). Tina and I found ourselves sitting with Jason at a table surrounded by a multitude of people who, on a Saturday non-game day, nevertheless were still in full Steelers regalia, including the servers. The food was, indeed, excellent, served on butcher paper and stacked so high it was difficult to get one’s hands, much less one’s mouth, around it. We then headed out to see other sights in the very shadow of the terrible towel. Even on a cold January Saturday, the streets were absolutely buzzing, with vendors hawking everything from skewered Chinese wings to highly uncomplimentary tee shirts prominently featuring either the Browns, Cleveland, or both.

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, while housed in an old warehouse, which could well be the manufacturing site for macaroni, is actually a misnomer. This Italian market is similar to Gallucci’s Italian market in Cleveland, but this market is a Gallucci’s on steroids. It is significantly larger with a greater array of everything Italian from yards and yards of butcher cases filled with imported cheeses and sausages, to the countless variety of both fresh and dried pastas. We hadn’t planned on grocery shopping, but I couldn’t resist some fresh chipotle linguine.

From Penn Mac, it was on to Wholey’s Fresh Foods, a meat and seafood market, passing on our way, the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Club which (according to the sign on the door), was closed for “staff retraining” Based upon conversation, it appeared that the retraining would be complete in three to five years at which point this club of ill repute might re-open. Wholey’s Market, reminded me much of our own Westside market, but instead of multiple vendors, there was a single purveyor, butchering everything from a “side” of Ahi Tuna, to cutting bone-in Delmonicos to spec. There were tanks of live Maine Lobsters, fresh black bass and trout, and chest after chest of frozen prepared foods. It was unfortunate that the only cooler available happened to be, you guessed it, Pittsburgh Black and Gold. Even though Wholly’s would’ve packed my fresh purchases in ice, gratis, and even though the tuna looked superb, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a Steelers cooler.

From Wholey’s it was to the Chinese Market and then to the Penzey’s Spice Retail Outlet. At every turn there was Pittsburgh black and gold: hats, flags, stuffed animals, gloves, jerseys, baby clothes, you name it. With our accent clearly not of Pittsburgh, it was necessary that we avert our eyes and allow Jason to do the talking because, without question, we were far behind enemy lines. And as enjoyable as the day had been, as much fun as the shops and stores were, I had every reason to believe that had I been wearing my Bernie Kosar jersey, our reception might have been less hospitable; that perhaps there would have been a certain level of sarcastic derision from those clad in black and gold looking (once again) to the super bowl, as this Browns fan waited (once again) for next year. I must admit that Jason, found it amusing. Now, with the Super Bowl behind us, football won’t be back in vogue for another 5 or 6 months and at least I can revel in the fact that he hasn’t taken to rooting for the Pirates.

Stlrs4Life
03-01-2009, 10:25 AM
LOL, good read!

steelersfanman92
03-01-2009, 10:51 AM
Haha great article

KeiselPower99
03-01-2009, 11:31 AM
Thats a good read. I like going to Cleveland and taking in the town. My Grandpa remembered when he lived there back in the 60's through the late 80's that it was nasty and you didnt wanna be there. When I went up there for the first time I was amazed how nice and cleaned up the city was compared to the stories he told me. Cleveland is probably number 4 in my top 5 favorite cities. Of course Pittsburgh is number 2.

SteelShooter
03-01-2009, 12:33 PM
I absolutely loved it!

lilyoder6
03-01-2009, 12:38 PM
very good read.. and i don't think he has 2 wry bout his son roting 4 the pirates 4 a long time

HometownGal
03-01-2009, 05:19 PM
Thats a good read. I like going to Cleveland and taking in the town. My Grandpa remembered when he lived there back in the 60's through the late 80's that it was nasty and you didnt wanna be there. When I went up there for the first time I was amazed how nice and cleaned up the city was compared to the stories he told me. Cleveland is probably number 4 in my top 5 favorite cities. Of course Pittsburgh is number 2.

I totally share in your opinion of Cleveland. It isn't the dirty shithole some people (who probably have never been there) believe it to be. Actually, it is quite a nice city.

A lot of people have the same misconception of Pittsburgh - that it is a dirty, stinky old steel town. Again, those are the opinions of those who have never been here and haven't paid attention over the last 25+ years to all of the transformations not only in downtown Pittsburgh, but the surrounding areas. I know I'm a bit biased as I've lived here most of my life, but Pittsburgh is an absolutely beautiful city! :thumbsup:

Steely McSmash
03-01-2009, 10:38 PM
EVer had Presti's donuts in Cleveland? Near little italy.

Worth a detour if you're in the area.

Galax Steeler
03-02-2009, 06:53 AM
Never been there but I will take everyones word for it.

Milkman
03-02-2009, 08:54 AM
Nice read.

Vincent
03-02-2009, 09:02 AM
Born in Pittsburgh. Family moved to Filthy when I was 4. Hadn't been back until 1980, then again in 1996 for the snow game against the Bolts.

Had occasion to be in Pittsburgh this last fall 4 times.

This article is exactly how the strip hit me. There are places in some cities "like it", but there is no other place on the planet REALLY like it. I had been there each time I went up there but only had one occasion to shop – 45 minutes before I zoomed over to Vincent’s Pizza before zooming to a business meeting. And in those 45 minutes I scored a bunch of goodness at Penn Mac and a bunch of superb pots for the Little Mrs. at the pottery gallery across the street. Then two Flintstone’s pies at Vinny’s.

Oh, and the reason I only had 45 minutes to shop is it was a beautiful fall morning and I went over to Heinz Field to catch a glimpse. I was peering into the Great Hall and a young man asked if he could help me. I asked if there was any way to get down on the field. He said no and left it at that. So I'm walking out and he says "Sir, do you have a camera?". I said I did. He said "Follow me.". And he gave me the tour, field and all. I'll never forget the kindness of that Kid. As it happens, he was one of the Rooneys. They are that kind of family.

I will take the family to Pittsburgh at the 1st opportunity. To me, Pittsburgh is a destination.

Hapa
03-02-2009, 09:32 AM
I would feel like I had failed at raising my son if he became a Raven fan or sometthing....

M1JAM
03-03-2009, 08:50 PM
[ONE STACKED SANDWICH
Cleveland has long been thought of as a sports town -- not because of the multitude of championships over the past decades (let’s not forget the Crunch), but rather an allegiance of the fan base to the various franchises: Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. We’ve now had yet another Super Bowl in which the Browns were not participants.


WHAT IS THE BEST PLACE TO EAT WHEN YOU ARE IN CLEVELAND?????

M1JAM
03-03-2009, 08:52 PM
When in Clevlend, the best place to go is ......

...........................PITTSBURGH..

pepsyman1
03-03-2009, 11:29 PM
That was a GREAT story. I've been a Steelers fan since grade school, but didn't make it to PIttsburgh to see a game until the AFC Championship game against the Bolts. I've lived just outside of Philadelphia my whole life (went to phillies and sixers parades as a teenager), but never saw ANYTHING like being in Pittsburgh during football season. I've been back many times and the city and the fans never cease to amaze. The clincher was this year...I planned on buying my best friend tickets to the Eagles/Steelers game in Philly (he's an Eagles fan)...after his initial enthusiasm for the idea turned to disgust because he couldn't gather enough other Eagles "fans" to cough up bucks to buy a block of tickets for the game, he turned to me and told me to forget it and suggested we just go to another Steelers game at Heinz field. He's come with me everytime I've come to Pittsburgh and has the same reaction as the story's author when he walks around the city with me. It is truly amazing the passion the city holds for its team. There are NO FANS LIKE STEELERS FANS.

WeegiesWarriors
03-04-2009, 07:00 AM
I live near cleveland and the clevelanders ask me whats the main difference between the two cities... having grown up close to Pittsburgh.

The main one is that in Pittsburgh you NEVER see anybody wearing browns gear, and if you do you look at them like a retarded alien. In cleveland, you see Steeler gear being worn everywhere. In a lot of stores, the Steeler section is damn near every bit as big as the browns section. That is unheard of in Pittsburgh.

revefsreleets
03-04-2009, 11:01 AM
I live near cleveland and the clevelanders ask me whats the main difference between the two cities... having grown up close to Pittsburgh.

The main one is that in Pittsburgh you NEVER see anybody wearing browns gear, and if you do you look at them like a retarded alien. In cleveland, you see Steeler gear being worn everywhere. In a lot of stores, the Steeler section is damn near every bit as big as the browns section. That is unheard of in Pittsburgh.

Bingo. There are, as far as I can tell, almost no Browns fans in Pittsburgh. If there are, they hide in basements in fear and shame. But Steelers fans are literally ubiquitous in Cleveland. We walk around sporting all our B&G gear with pride.

Now, the difference (and I'm only speculating here) is that Browns fans, out of a combination of envy and a HUGE inferiority complex, will be really brutal in their verbal attacks on Steelers fans. Of course they only do this when they have numbers, because Borowns fans are, in general, pussies. But I'm guessing that if you wore a Browns jersey in da Burgh (especially out-of-season) most people would just look at you with pity, like you were a small retarded child or something.

beSteelmyheart
03-04-2009, 08:14 PM
Great read!
It brings to mind my fiancee, who grew up in Cleveland & is a Browns fan, & the way he reacted to my small hometown of Vandergrift, PA when we visited up there....He loves it there & couldn't believe how nice everyone is! It wouldn't be a problem getting him to move back there with me, even though it's in Steelers country, if only we had some good jobs waiting for us when we got there...
He also noticed how everyone wears Steelers stuff, everywhere we went & was jealous about my being able to even find cool Steelers stuff in the local Giant Eagle!

Vincent
03-04-2009, 08:37 PM
A "browns fan", and I don't why one would don such a lamentable mantle, is a piteous sight. Not to be seen in the light of day in the City of Champions.

Jackal
03-05-2009, 10:28 AM
Any self-respected Pix-burgher will find this yuppy interpretation as an affront to everything that is sacred:

http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/restaurants/bestbites/11578.html

I give the guy an A+ for effort, and I'm sure it's damn tasty, but sopressata and gouda? I guess this is a Primanti's sandwich you have to eat with your pinky extended.