Above: Bistro to Go’s Aaron Wakow is crowned the Northside Sandwich King, while the judges look on. (Photo by Kelsey Shea).
The Northside has new kings… sandwich kings that is. Last Thursday after competing against nine other Northside restaurants, Aaron Wakow and Michael Oliver from Bistro to Go were crowned for their culinary creation in the first annual Northside Sandwich Week.
To celebrate the sandwich’s 250th birthday and showcase Northside restaurants, the Northside Leadership Conference hosted the first ever Northside Sandwich Week June 25-30.
Throughout the week, 10 participating restaurants and pubs in the Northside offered a signature sandwich at a promotional price.
“This will be an opportunity to showcase some of the really good sandwiches and really cool ‘mom and pop’ restaurants and pubs that we have in the Northside,” said Emily Leone, business development director and event coordinator at the Northside Leadership Conference.
Sandwiches from Atrias, Bistro to Go, El Burro, Billy’s Troy Hill Bistro, James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, the Little Deli/Modern Café, Penn Brewery, Peppi’s, Steve’s New York Hot Dog Shop and Young Brothers Bar were featured.
The highlight of the week, the Northside Sandwich Sampler, took place on Thursday, June 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Penn Brewery’s Eisenhalle, where Bistro won its prize.
“It’s just great,” said Sandwich King Wakow. “We’re just so excited.”
About 150 participants and the guest panel of celebrity judges, which included local jazz artist Tony Mowod, WPXI anchors Rich Walsh and Chris Fennimore and Rick Sebak of WQED, chose the four winners.
“We’re going to have people here tonight who don’t know that Federal Street goes past PNC Park,” said Irene Karavolos of Steve’s New York Hotdog Shop. “It’s been fabulous. We think we’ll get some great exposure here tonight”
Karavolos said she not only plans on participating next year, but will encourage other restaurants to do the same.
Bistro to Go’s Smokey Griller won first place for its loaded twist on the grilled cheese by popular vote. The Little Deli/Modern Café’s gyro-inspired Spartan won second place, and Steve’s New York Hotdog Shop won third for their special chili dog.
The judges chose Penn Brewery’s German-style pork sandwich as most unique.
Leone is hoping that sandwich week will inspire people of the Northside to get out and try something new while supporting local establishments.
“We feel like the Northside needs an event that will really showcase some of the great local restaurants and pubs,” said Leone. “We want people to know we have such awesome chef talent in the Northside and these restaurants are some of the best kept secrets in the area.”