Heinz Field’s new executive chef John DiMartini has only been on staff for three months, but he’s ready to roll out 10 new house-made menu items in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers pre-season home opener Saturday.
Available to all fans in the concession areas is the Emperor Burger, named for late Steelers head coach Chuck Noll: a beef patty with shaved kielbasa, onion bacon kraut and Heinz Field Secret Sauce on a brioche bun. Also new to concession stands this season are 8-inch personal cheese and pepperoni pizzas from Fox’s Pizza Den, based in Murrysville.
Most of the new food items are available only to fans on the club level and in suites. Club level tickets for the Sept. 7 regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns begin at $242.15.
One of the themes of the new fare on the club level: “put an egg on it.” The D-Line burger features a beef patty with smoked brisket, spicy jalapeno jam, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese and a fried egg. You’ll also find a fried egg atop the foot-long bacon, egg and cheese dog.
Heinz Field will also begin offering oversized Italian hoagie sandwiches, Three Rivers kielbasa, meatballs stuffed with cheese and spaghetti, and fresh smoked turkey sandwiches.
“This is in-house smoked," DiMartini said. "We smoke it the day of the game. We brine it for 3-4 days in a maple brown sugar brine, rub it with our spicy Cajun seasoning, smoke it and serve it with a Creole sauce on a fresh brioche bun.”
DiMartini said the items at the concession stands and on the club level range from $8-12 each.
In the suites, fans will now have the option of eating Burgatory sliders and shakes. But the real star of the burger show is the “Burgher on a Stick."
“We took creamy cheddar cheese, a little bacon, a little relish, molded it on a stick, wrapped seasoned ground beef around it, breaded it, deep fried it, and we serve it with spicy ketchup,” DiMartini said.
Also new this season is the Football City Mini Sampler, a friendly nod to two of the three teams which accompany the Steelers in the AFC North. (Guess which team doesn’t have its own dog.)
“(The sampler includes the) Steeler Dog, which is kielbasa, bacon, kraut, with caramelized onions and mustard,” DiMartini said. “We’ve got the Baltimore Dog with crab dip on top, sweet ketchup and scallions. The Cincinnati Dog has Skyline Chili, cheddar cheese and diced white onions.”
Last but not least are the arancinis, panko breaded rice balls stuffed with ground beef and veal.
DiMartini is a Pittsburgh native but lived away from the Steel City for 15 years. Most recently he was executive chef at Miller Field in Milwaukee, home of the Brewers. He said he’s most looking forward to the fans trying the new offerings.
"That's the fun part of the job," DiMartini said.
Not all of the changes at Heinz Field are of the gastronomic variety. Communications coordinator Burt Lauten showed off the new $3.3 million scoreboard in the northwest corner of the stadium.
“(It offers a) great sight line for everyone,” Lauten said. “Anybody who is in the south end zone, they don’t have to turn around to look at the larger score board. It’s up and functional, and it was used for the soccer match that was here in late July.”
In May, the Steelers and the Sports and Exhibition Authority reached an agreement on who will pay for the new scoreboard and 3,000 additional seats, which are expected to be installed before the 2015 season.
SEA will float the nearly $40 million bond and the Steelers will make annual payments of $2.1 million through the end of their lease in 2031.
Another upgrade is free Wi-Fi, which will be available to fans in the Great Hall and on the club level concourses.
Through a five-year partnership with Anheuser-Busch, a new Bud Light deck on the northwest corner of the stadium will accommodate 150 fans and will offer food and drink. Fans will have access to the area only through contests and other promotions.
The Steeline Drumline will move from the southwest end zone onto the field.
Finally, Lauten said special tributes to Joe Green and Ernie Stautner are in the works for the Walk of Fame, but he didn’t yet have details to share.
Where to find the new food:
- Emperor Burger – Sections 133, 122, 509, 533
- Fox’s Pizza – Sections 108, 114, 120, 124, 130, 134, 138, 424, 508, 511, 513, 531, 535, 538
- D-Line Burger – Sections 212, 236
- Stuffed Meatball – Sections 206, 230
- Carved Turkey – Sections 215, 239
- Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Dog – Sections 209, 233
- Three Rivers Kielbasa – Sections 209, 233
- Italian Hoagie – Sections 215, 239
- Available in the suites only: Burgatory sliders and shakes, Burgher on a Stick, Football City Mini Sampler and Arancinis.