One of the interesting things about life is a hidden secret can be right under your nose and you may not even know it is there. For example, a highway or road that you take every day to work may have an interesting business or establishment below it that you did not even know even exist. Whether you are a long-time resident of Pittsburgh or new to the area, you may not even know that about an area called “The Run” in lower Greenfield. The neighborhood is distinguishing because of its extreme geographic isolation from the rest of the city. Located in “The Run” is a restaurant that was featured on Diner’s, Drive-Inns, and Dives called Big Jim’s who has been cooking up Italian American cuisine since 1977. Let us see why Guy Fieri made it a point to stop at this legendary establishment.
The vision – The original owner was Jim Bocchiccio, whose vision was huge, delicious portions, and his motto was something along the lines of “When you come here, you eat well”. The locals know that when they come to Big Jim’s they are going to get a delicious meal and their hard-earned dollar is going to go a long way.
Italian cuisine – One of Big Jim’s specialties is Italian. Start your meal off with some homemade wedding soup. Fresh escarole, homemade mini-meatballs, and fresh chicken are just a few ingredients that give you a great flavor pop. The meatballs by themselves feature two key ingredients in Panko breadcrumbs and pecorino Romano cheese. The marina sauce features fresh vegetables that are pureed in olive oil to give a great consistency to their famous red sauce. Big Jim’s has various pasta dishes that give you a ton of variety to choose from which also includes the mammoth Veal Cutlet Ala Parmigiana sandwich which is so big it is served on a half loaf of Italian bread. If you do not mind waiting a little try one of their many delicious calzones which are packed full of goodness!
Big Jim’s specialty sandwiches – Sandwiches in the steel city were popular since the steel mill era. They were quick and easy to eat on the go. Big Jim’s takes great pride in their sandwiches. The open-faced roast beef and roast turkey features generous portions of fresh turkey and roast beef smothered in beef and turkey gravy. The Two Bill sandwich showcases corned beef, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, 1000 island dressing, with a fried egg on Russian Rye. Hungry for steak? Go with the 10 oz open-faced strip steak served with lettuce and tomatoes. Big Jim’s also features more traditional hoagies such as Italian, steak, meatball, and hot sausage.
Other menu items – Big Jim’s has a wide array of appetizers such as homemade breaded zucchini, chicken planks, fried clam strips, wings, and nachos to name a few. If you want to keep it a little healthier their salads are loaded with fresh ingredients as well. You can also get great burgers and pizza if you want to keep it traditional. Pair any meal with a side of their underrated, fresh-cut French Fries. All French Fries are not created equally, believe me! Big Jim’s are the real deal!
Big Jim's Final Take:
LONG TIME LEGEND RE-OPENS FOR INDOOR DINING SHOWCASING ITS MONSTER PORTIONS
My final take – Triple D does their research before visiting a restaurant. They look for places that are unique and have a certain X factor that differentiates them from other establishments. Big Jim’s not only gives you massive portions but also gives you great quality as well. Talk to any of the regulars that visit frequently, and they will tell you that Big Jim’s is unique, give it a try!
- Taste and Flavor –
(1) Bland, no taste at all, under/overcooked/dry
(2) Edible, but below average, little to no spices, herbs, or seasonings, somewhat under/overcooked/dry
(3) Decent quality, spices/herbs/seasoning used. Not going to rave about the food but also not going to complain.
(4) Restaurant/dish lives up to reputation. Flavorful, it is clear spices/herbs, seasonings are used effectively. Dishes clearly thought out and well executed. What you would expect for your hard-earned dollar.
(5) Exceeds expectations. Not only are spices/herbs, and seasonings used to perfection, at this level, highest quality ingredients/meats used. Processes such as aging, brining, and marinating are used at this level. Food is cooked to perfection at this level and meat is unbelievably tender and juicy. You tell all your friends and family immediately about your food experience.
- Portion Size – How much food do you get, is there left-overs? 5s need to wow me.
- Affordability – Average cost of entrees and appetizers
- Ambience – The mood or feeling of the restaurant. Decorations, history, memorabilia, etc. Is it an atmosphere you could spend hours at?
To check out more amazing restaurants in the Pittsburgh area, read my first book, The Hidden Restaurant Gems of Pittsburgh: An Insider’s Guide.