Big Jim's is a quintessential Pittsburgh bar and restaurant in “the run,” aka lower Greenfield. A dimly lit space with wood paneled walls, the emphasis here is on huge portions of classic Italian and Pittsburgh food. Calzones so big they take 45 minutes to bake and don't even fit on a single plate? Check. Reubens piled a mile high with corned beef? Yep. Burgers, hoagies, and salads topped with fries? That's so Pittsburgh.
First things first, you definitely shouldn't come here if you're on a diet or a vegan. And you should definitely expect a wait on the weekends. If neither of those things bother you, then wear your fat pants and prepare to step back in time for a true Pittsburgh experience.
Massive Beers and Massive Meals at Big Jim's
We visited on a recent Friday night around 7pm and after waiting for a table for a while, sat at the bar instead when some space opened up. The draft list is basic and consists of the likes of Yuengling and Blue Moon. Normally they have a special beer made for them by Leinenkugel's, Big Jim's Blend, but they were out of it when we visited. There was also a seasonal beer on tap, the Jack-O Traveler Pumpkin Shandy. Although the draft list is brief, the bottle list is much larger and has dozens of options.
After ordering a Pumpkin Shandy and a Blue Moon, we perused the menu which included salads, sandwiches, burgers, hoagies, pizzas, calzones, pasta dinners, and steaks. I was in the mood for some Italian food, and the word “homemade” in front of the eggplant parmigiana sealed the deal for me. As we are on a quest to find the best Reuben in the city, and many of our readers have mentioned Big Jim's has a great Reuebn, Jeremy had to check this one out.
The eggplant parmigiana came with a basic salad before the meal as well as spaghetti and garlic toast with the meal. The eggplant breading was seasoned well and it was nice and crispy (until the marinara sauce soaked in). The whole thing was smothered with a heavenly amount of mozzarella. The most impressive thing about this entree was the size: I ended up making four meals out of this thing!
And a Massive Reuben, Too
Jeremy's Reuben was a fairly straightforward but solid take on the classic sandwich. The meat wasn't anything special but the sauerkraut and dressing kept everything nice and saucy. The bread was toasted but we would have loved if the whole sandwich would have been grilled to get a buttery, golden crust on the bread.
We will definitely return and try out the massive calzones- if we can endure the 45 minute wait for them to bake!
Overall, the food we had at Big Jim's was pretty good but the atmosphere was amazing. It's hard to explain exactly what makes this place so great, but I think it's a combination of status as a Pittsburgh institution, a slightly divey atmosphere, and classic Pittsburgh comfort food. You'll just have to come and see for yourself!
Big Jim's in the Run is located at 201 Saline Street in Four Mile Run, just south of Oakland.
Looking for more comfort food in Pittsburgh? Why not check out our Pittsburgh Reuben directory which features a collection of our absolute favorites!
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