Pittsburghers are pretty conventional when it comes to football, and that includes what we like to eat while watching our beloved Steelers kick opposing teams' butts at Heinz Field.
Nachos with cheese sauce anyone, or hey, how 'bout them Primanti sandwiches?
Yet even the biggest traditionalist likes to mix things up every once in a while, which is why we're happy to report Aramark is offering several new food items during home games at the North Side stadium during the 2013-14 season.
Chief among them is a pulled pork sandwich that will be offered at Hickory Bridge BBQ Co. on the main concourse (Section 129). A tasty marriage of meat smoked on the premises and Heinz barbecue sauce, the saucy sammy ($9) was available last season only to guests on the fourth level. "But it did very well, so this year we have it on a stand on the main level, too," said Aramark general manager Dominic DePaola. You also can find it in the nosebleed seats, in Section 526 on the stadium's north side.
Also available in general concessions is an Italian beef sandwich made with slow-roasted beef, sharp provolone and giardiniera, a hot and tangy melange of peppers, carrots, celery, cauliflower and other colorful veggies. It's served on an Italian roll, au jus.
Or maybe you'd rather partake of one of the year's trendiest foods, poutine. They're calling it Loaded Fries, but there's no mistaking this Canadian dish of french fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. (I know, probably more appropriate for hockey season but tasty, nevertheless.)
Over at Allegheny Fry Co. (Sections 106, 136) you'll find the stadium's new spicy fried chicken sandwich ($8). It's served on an Italian roll with lettuce, tomato, provolone and crispy bacon. The "spicy" comes from fresh jalapenos, which are sliced on top and then slathered with a mouth-tingling chipotle-ranch sauce.
"It's fantastic," says Mr. DePaola. "The flavor profile is amazing. It really pops when you eat it."
Making its debut in the east and west club levels is a stuffed meatball bowl -- homemade pork, beef and veal meatballs bathed in tomato sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. Carbs come in the form of a piece of focaccia.
That's where you'll also find two new half-pound burgers at the Steel City Burger Stand: a bacon-cheddar burger on a rustic kaiser roll and an onion-jalapeno burger, also on a kaiser roll, that comes topped with an onion ring, Swiss cheese and mushrooms.
For those seeking a lighter dish, Aramark has cooked up an all-natural chicken sandwich. Grilled instead of fried, the breast is tucked into a six-grain roll with sundried-tomato pesto, arugula and goat cheese. Also lower in fat and calories (relatively speaking, anyway) is a new buffalo chicken sausage sandwich ($8). It's served with carrot and celery slaw and a blue cheese aioli; the sausage is made locally by Silver Star Meats in McKees Rocks, which will be featured later this year on an episode of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" with Andrew Zimmern. (He filmed a Pittsburgh-based episode there on braunschweiger in May.)
This year's new picks, Mr. DePaola concedes, might not be as headline-grabbing as the stadium food served in other cities. At Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., for instance, fans can risk heart attack on something called the Packer Pride Hot Dog: A foot-long hot dog cooked inside a foot-long bratwurst, all of which is completely wrapped in bacon and served on a pretzel bun.
"But we try to be unique and different," says Mr. DePaola.
Pittsburghers, he adds, "like their big sandwiches."
Also new this season: Guests no longer have to bring wads of cash to buy lunch and instead will be able to use credit cards to purchase food and beverages at concession stands and portables in all areas of the stadium. Accepted cards include Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.
Are you ready for some football?
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay. First Published August 22, 2013 4:00 AM