The latest, and possibly most annoying, iteration of this has been the region’s recent obsession about Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy’s visits to various iconic Pittsburgh restaurants. Social media has been abuzz with shares of Portnoy’s videos of him doing absolutely pedestrian Pittsburgh things like eating pizza in Squirrel Hill and drinking cartons of Turner’s iced tea.
And while he's gotten a lot of attention and praise for patronizing and reviewing Aiello’s, Primanti Bros., and Mineo’s in the past week, he honestly deserves none of it, and it’s pretty clear the only reason he’s in Pittsburgh is to market and promote his Barstool Sportsbook betting app, which is now available to Pennsylvania customers.
In his latest visit to Mineo’s, for example, he calls the iconic Squirrel Hill joint “Minello’s” just after saying the name correctly. His dedication is weak. He then literally says, “Reminder why we're here, the sportsbook app is live now, so if you haven’t downloaded it, if you like to gamble, if you like to play with us.” Portnoy then says “Minello’s” again.
During a recent visit to Primanti’s Bros., he incorrectly said the sandwich came with “french fries, cheese, hamburger, tomatoes, and lettuce.” The iconic sandwiches are famous for coming with fries and vinegar-based coleslaw, not lettuce.
Barstool Pizza Review - Mineo's Pizza House (Pittsburgh, PA) pic.twitter.com/5Jk2WwdOBr— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) September 28, 2020
Portnoy has been doing pizza reviews for some time now across the country, so this isn’t that out of the ordinary for him. But, Pittsburgh, we don’t need more reviews of our most popular and iconic restaurants. Mineo’s, not minello’s, is so popular and well-known that Joe Biden ordered their pizza for local firefighters last time he was in town. Mineo’s is a regular top vote getters in Pittsburgh City Paper’s Best Of awards, and Aiello's and Benny Fierro's are incredibly popular, too.
Plus, Primanti’s is basically Pittsburgh's only food export, as the chain has locations in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and other states.
It would have been more prudent for Portnoy to review something that actually needs some promotion or some place that is under-the-radar. I am partial to Ohio Valley Pizza myself, or he could have visited Altoona for some yellow-cheese Altoona Hotel Pizza, since a lot of people still don’t know what these unique slices are. Or maybe a local barbecue place like Showcase.
In the defense of some Pittsburghers, I understand the desire to share Portnoy’s useless videos. He has a massive online following, so his videos get widely shared regardless, and so Pittsburghers latch on. I get it, to some extent. For decades, Pittsburgh was the butt of jokes about pollution and people with weird accents. So seeing someone from outside of the area try our favorites is validating.
But, we don’t need the validation. We already love Mineo’s and Primanti’s. Who cares what Portnoy thinks? Portnoy is a tool. This year he threatened to fire his Barstool employees if they unionized. Firing workers for unionizing is illegal in the U.S.
Portnoy also ranted against coronavirus restrictions in May, just as case numbers were really declining. About two months later, U.S. coronavirus cases were at a new record high. He also gave a softball interview to President Donald Trump, in which Portnoy mostly just brags about himself, complains about “divisiveness,” and excuses Trump for retweeting offensive twitter accounts.