HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Do you create unique foods? Get great advice


richarm1 May 31, 2007 02:06 PM

I just learned about an amazing-sounding New Orleans sandwich called a "Mufaletta." Is there ANY chance I could find such a thing in old DC?

  1. MsDiPesto May 31, 2007 02:27 PM

    While you may be able to find a jar of the olive salad made by either Central or Progress groceries in N.O., a home made version is likely the closest you'll get around here. It's one of those things that has a special roll, etc., that you can't get in other regions.

    Alternatively, I think Central Grocery ( the place I bought them from when there on biz) did FedEx their Muffelettas, in pre-Katrina days, so if you have not had the pleasure, it may be worth it for you to get the real thing. No web presence though, if you give them a call, they may be able to hook you up.

    Or, fly there and pick a few up to bring home! :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: MsDiPesto
      sharonc May 31, 2007 02:37 PM

      The Red & Black at 1212 H street NE serves Mufaletta.

      1. re: sharonc
        sweth Jun 5, 2007 07:27 AM

        It's been a long time since I've had a good mufaletta, and I was in the area, so I stopped by Red & Black last night to try theirs--only to be told that they only food they had was gumbo and jambalaya (which was especially odd given that the special of the night was free red beans & rice w/ a 2 drink minimum, but apparently they had no red beans & rice, either). FWIW, I did try the gumbo, which was just OK--good for something to eat while listening to a band, but not something I'd go out of my way for.

    2. Dennis S May 31, 2007 02:39 PM

      Acadiana has one on the menu, but it's deplorable (maybe the only bad thing there?).

      I've not seen others in this area.

      Thinly related, I was introduced to it first in Columbia, MO to what turns out to be a very faithful incarnation of the sandwich. More thinly related, Highlands NC, where my mom-in-law retired to, has a handful of places that all do decent interpretations of it.

      Really a shame that DC doesn't have one any of us have found - AND that Acadiana fails so miserably at their attempt - it really isn't even an interpretation, in my mind. If you try theirs first, you'll do yourself harm by guaranteeing you'll never order one anywhere.

      1. Bill on Capitol Hill May 31, 2007 02:45 PM

        (Ducking) There's always the Orignal sandwich at Schlotzsky's!

        1. uptownlibrarian May 31, 2007 02:58 PM

          I just happened to see the word "Muffaletta" on the main board, I'm not a New Orleans stalker hijacking your thread.

          Anyway, as I'm sure you know, a large part of what makes a mufaletta special is the olive salad. Recipes vary but it basically consists of chopped up green olives, cauliflower, onions, carrots, celery, and spices all cured in oil. And the special bread is a substantial round roll of supposedly Scicilian origin, about the size of a volleyball to basketball in diameter. The meat and cheese can be anything Italian, salami, capicola, etc., then some provelone cheese. They are traditionally served cold, but some places serve them toasted which since I'm not in the New Orleans board I can safely say I prefer. You can find jarred olive salad at www.cajungrocer.com and other places, I'm sure. You can make olive salad yourself too of course, but I suggest buying some first to see what it's supposed to taste like before commencing experimentation.

          11 Replies
          1. re: uptownlibrarian
            cheesepowder May 31, 2007 04:23 PM

            The Italian Store on Lee Highway in Arlington has muffaletta on their menu. I haven't tried it there or in New Orleans though.

            1. re: cheesepowder
              Dennis S May 31, 2007 05:18 PM

              Huh - somehow never noticed it there. I would guess that they would have at least a decent interpretation of it. Not that you can ever get to the front of the line to order anymore...

              1. re: Dennis S
                flavrmeistr Jun 1, 2007 12:30 PM

                I can't get past the Capri. I wonder if the muffaletta has prosciutto? Or maybe I could get the olive stuff on the Capri...

                1. re: flavrmeistr
                  tapas gal Jun 1, 2007 02:06 PM

                  No proscuitto... Central Grocery's version is Genoa Salami, Mortadella and Ham... Also provolone and mozz cheese. I actually ran across a very good bread choice awhile back and reminded myself to remember where - of course I forget... but I am almost sure it was Wegmans.

                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                    cheesepowder Jun 1, 2007 02:39 PM

                    According to their website, the Italian store's version has prosciutto.
                    "Round Sicillian bread, over stuffed with mortadella, provolone, smoked prosciutto & genoa salami, topped off with olive condite and our famous olive oil dressing!"

                    1. re: cheesepowder
                      flavrmeistr Jun 4, 2007 06:15 AM

                      Sounds like lunch to me! Maybe some hot sweet peppers to go with.

                  2. re: Dennis S
                    sweth Jul 2, 2007 07:40 PM

                    I was in the area today, so I stopped by to try the muff, and it appears that the reason that neither you nor I had ever noticed it on the menu is that it isn't there--they make it, but when I asked where it was on the menu, the guy I was talking to stopped, looked at the menu for a good five minutes, and then said, "Oh, there it is", and pointed at a reprint of a 1999 article from the Post about their muffaletta that was one the wall.

                    (Then he paused again, and realized that they were out of the olive spread, so I ended up getting a Capri instead. That makes me 0 for 2 on getting muffalettas from places that have been suggested in this thread...)

                    1. re: sweth
                      dcs Jul 3, 2007 02:33 AM

                      That is odd. The muffaletta is on every menu from the Italian Store I have ever seen. It is on the one I am looking at now from my cabinet. It is on their on-line menu:


                      I have never known them to run out of the olive condite, although I have experienced a shortage of the mufalletta circular roll. It is always best to order them early, and often.........

                      1. re: dcs
                        hungryT Jul 3, 2007 04:42 AM

                        It's on their printed sandwich menu, left-side center. Like flavrmeistr, I haven't been able to get past the Capri. I've ordered enough of their sandwiches to try all the meats they use (on the sandwiches) and by far, the Capri is my favorite.
                        Altho, I've been curious to try the muffaletta. How much more filling is it over a large sandwich?
                        re: waiting in line. Rule of thumb for the place is call ahead if you're not going to be there by 11:15am (or wait for late lunch)

                  3. re: cheesepowder
                    malveaux May 31, 2007 05:45 PM

                    I've had it. In fact, it is all I ever get there anymore. It is FANTASTIC!!!

                    As long as they don't run out of the right bread or anything. They say it is for 2 people, but it is sooo good that one person can snarf it down and regret how much they ate later. Just as it should be with a Mufaletta.

                    1. re: cheesepowder
                      Jule May 31, 2007 07:23 PM

                      I Think that the version there is actually quite good. I've also tried one at Louisiana Express in Bethesda and while I generally like their food (not their beignets or cafe au lait-unfortunately) their mufaletta was very blah.

                  4. monkeyrotica Jun 1, 2007 06:42 AM

                    This is the same problem with cuban sandwiches or Italian beef or doner kebabs: there's no Cuban/Italian/Turkish community in DC to support/create them. The key ingredient is the bread, difficult to duplicate.

                    Although it sounds like I have to check out the Italian Store's version.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: monkeyrotica
                      MakingSense Jun 1, 2007 02:51 PM

                      The neighborhood around Mangialardo's was an Italian neighborhood. Thirty years ago when I started going there it was a grocery store, more than twice the size it is now. There were several Italian enclaves in DC. Around the Florida Avenue Market where Litteri's is. Until about fifteen years ago much of their deli staff still spoke Italian. Catania's Bakery on North Capital served the Italian community and that's where both Mang. and Litteri's get their bread. They're open for retail sales on Saturday mornings.
                      I have no idea why Mang. and Litteri's don't do Muffs. They'd probably do good ones but it's hard to beat what they turn out.

                      1. re: MakingSense
                        monkeyrotica Jun 2, 2007 06:53 AM

                        Here's an interview with Joe Maingialardo about starting the grocery and where the G Man sandwich got it's name. What a shame he doesn't make his own sausages anymore.


                      2. re: monkeyrotica
                        sweth Jul 2, 2007 07:42 PM

                        FWIW, Levante's in Bethesda seems to get the doner kebab bread right, but their meat and sauce leave a lot to be desired.

                      3. ktmoomau Jun 1, 2007 07:59 AM

                        I think Southside in Alexandria has one, maybe they only have po' boys, but perhaps someone can say? I will have to try it at the Italian Store since i go there so often. I really love these things .

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ktmoomau
                          sweth Jun 1, 2007 10:29 AM

                          I'm 99% certain they don't have one at Southside. It's been a few months since I've been there, though, so it might be a new addition.

                        2. RobertM Jun 1, 2007 02:21 PM

                          Ok , has anyone in town been to 1212 H?

                          1. r
                            richarm1 Jun 1, 2007 02:58 PM

                            thanks to everyone for the great replies!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: richarm1
                              scot Jun 1, 2007 03:34 PM

                              I just had a great mufaletta at SBC in herndon. I know, not in DC but there have been a few good posts already and hopefully this might help someone else...

                            2. n
                              NoVaDog Jun 3, 2007 05:04 PM

                              I haven't had it there yet, but Evening Star Cafe on Mt. Vernon Ave, Alexandria claims to have one:


                              Sounds like someone oughta hit all these places, take some pics, and write a report...

                              1. d
                                DCPhoebe Jun 3, 2007 08:00 PM

                                Cantina Marina on the Southwest waterfront.

                                1. monkeyrotica Jun 8, 2007 07:13 AM

                                  Okay, here's one you DON'T want to try.


                                  I ordered the muffaletta at the Original Italian Pie restaurant in Alexandria off Route 1. It's a franchise. Anyway, the bread was stale and a little greasy, as if it had been left next to a deep fryer too long. The ham and salami were alright, but instead of provolone they use mozzarella. Not a big deal to me. What is a big deal is their olive salad sucked. It was just chopped up black and green olives and a LOT of salt. No green peppers, onions, celery, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, spring onion, capers. Just olives.

                                  If I could locate a decent approximation of the bread they use at Napoleon's or Central Grocer in New Orleans, I'd just make the sandwich myself.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                    MakingSense Jun 8, 2007 09:44 AM

                                    When I get homesick and have to have a muff, I buy the Catania round loaf from Litteri's. It's thicker that the loaves sold for muffs in NOLA so you cut it in thirds crosswise and remove the center section. Use that for crumbs or whatever. If you still find that a little breadier than you like, dig out a bit of the insides. Some of the places in NOLA do anyway. Litteri's has olive salad but it has to be chopped up finer for sandwiches. They sell all the stuff to make your own olive salad but you have to plan ahead since it's better if it marinates.
                                    In a real cravings pinch, I've used a good Kaiser roll and then made plane reservations.

                                  2. m
                                    MarcDC Jul 2, 2007 10:04 PM

                                    Clyde's is currently serving it

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: MarcDC
                                      monkeyrotica Jul 3, 2007 05:06 AM

                                      Which Clyde's? The menus can vary from store to store. Not that I'll ever have it, but it might be worth a try just to see if it lives up to the high Clyde's standard.


                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                        MarcDC Jul 4, 2007 05:20 PM

                                        i know for a fact they have it at the Tower Oaks location off of Wotton Parkway

                                    2. p
                                      Panini Guy Jul 17, 2007 08:14 PM

                                      Olive salad is a pain in the butt to make from scratch. When I've made it, it's been about two gallons - roughly 90 muffuletta wedges worth - stuff will last for six weeks easy if refrigerated. But that quantity is probably impractical for your needs ;0

                                      Still, if you're committed to eating a good one, dig up the dozen or so ingredients for the salad, get yourself some good cold cuts and find a round of Sicilian sesame semolina bread, and you're probably going to be closer to something authentic than you will at most delis.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Panini Guy
                                        monkeyrotica Jul 18, 2007 05:38 AM

                                        I make my own olive salad as well, about a gallon's worth at a time. I usually make it around Xmas time and give the excess away as gifts. Most local attempts at muffalettas screw up the olive salad: they just chop up olives and maybe put some Italian seasonings in. It's basically a rough chopped tapenade. Real olive salad for muffalettas have vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, green peppers. It's a real salad.

                                        And, yeah, it is pretty labor intensive, but it's worth it. And it's not just good on sandwiches, it's my go-to party spread for crackers and toast. A few years back I made mini-muffalettas, little two-bite appetizers, open-faced, on Italian loaf bread. They were gone in a few minutes. I use the recipe from the Little New Orleans Cookbook, but this one's just as good.


                                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                                          MTP Jul 18, 2007 08:00 AM

                                          I'm a big fan of the frenchuletta from liuzza's on bienville. basically a hot muff on french. outstanding.

                                      Show Hidden Posts