Photo by Justin Criado

Chris Biondo of Troy Hill’s Scratch Food & Beverage accepts his crown and trophy as the new Sandwich King during the fourth annual Northside Leadership Conference (NSLC) Northside Sandwich Week Sampler June 18 at the Priory’s Grand Hall in Historic Deutschtown.

By Justin Criado

It’s no secret Northsiders like to eat.

The numerous sandwich shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods are a tribute to that sentiment.

But which one has the best food? That’s just what was decided during the fourth annual Northside Leadership Conference (NSLC) Northside Sandwich Week Sampler June 18 at the Priory’s Grand Hall in Historic Deutschtown.

The sold out event welcomed over 400 people to sample all of the 11 entries in this year’s contest, before voting for their favorite by night’s end.

The Modern Café in Allegheny West was the two-time defending champ, and entered this year’s sampler with a Greek Cheesesteak, which is a family recipe, according to owner, and former Sandwich Queen, Irene Zotis.

The other competitors brought Reuben sandwiches, veggie wraps and sliders to the table, amongst others, all succulent in their own unique way.

But there could be only one to wear the crown. NSLC executive director Mark Fatla served as the master of ceremonies, announcing the overall winner.

“Like the Stanley Cup, each champion gets their names inscribed on the trophy and displays it for one year,” Fatla said.

In an unprecedented upset, newcomer Scratch Food & Beverage, set to officially open in Troy Hill during the next couple months, claimed the crown.

“We really just wanted to get out here to let people know where we were going to be and that we existed,” Chef Chris Biondo said.

The Scratch Reuben was one of three Reuben sandwiches presented to the masses, but Biondo used a special ingredient other than the smoked beef tongue on rye with beet and cabbage kraut.

“A lot of love, man,” Biondo said, crown and trophy in tow. “You have to respect the people that you’re trying to feed.”

With the win, Scratch F & B is automatically entered in the World Food Championships this November in Florida.

This year’s celebrity judges included Randy Gilson, the creator and artist behind Randyland in Central Northside; Pittsburgh Magazine food writer Hal B. Klein; and Post-Gazette food writer Gretchen MacKay.

“This was great to have all the sandwiches from the Northside,” Klein said. “I think it’s great that people in Pittsburgh are going out and trying new things.”

Legends of the North Shore, located in Central Northside, finished as runner-up with its Deutschtown Double Down creation featuring Bourbon pork chop and candied bacon, and while Chef Dan Bartow didn’t win the crown, he was christened with the unofficial “best mustache in Northside,” according to the public.

“The Northside is the place to be,” Bartow said.

The one-of-a-kind sandwiches will be featured in the restaurants throughout the week, and in-store online voting will determine the peoples’ champ of best sandwich joint.

For more information please visit the official website.

DSC_0469Photo by Justin Criado

Runner-up Chef Dan Bartow (left) of Central Northside’s Legends of the North Shore and Biondo during the fourth annual Northside Leadership Conference (NSLC) Northside Sandwich Week Sampler June 18 at the Priory’s Grand Hall in Historic Deutschtown. While Bartow finished second in sandwich voting, he earned the unofficial title of “best mustache in Northside,” according to the crowd.