12 Best Muffulettas
Tom Fitzmorris has published a list of what he considers the 12 best muffulettas in and around New Orleans (complete article here: http://www.nomenu.com/joomla1/index.p...)
I am going to quote the list, and his commentary about each entry, and I would be curious to hear reactions from the locals. I have a NOLA visit coming up, and originally planned to visit Central Grocery for a muffuletta, but Fitzmorris has it only about mid-way down on the list and he comments that the meats and cheeses are less generous at CG than elsewhere in town. Should we avoid the line at CG in favor of another place?
Here's the Fitzmorris list:
"1. Bosco's. Mandeville: 2040 La Hwy 59. 985-624-5066. ||Covington: 141 TerraBella Blvd. 985-612-7250. Bosco's has the bread, the good ham and salami, and the good cheeses, all sliced very thinly and finished with a great homemade olive salad. Even by the gargantuan scale of the muffuletta, this one is enormous. One could make two muffulettas out of the amount of fillings Tony Bosco puts on one.
2. Nor-Joe Imports. Metairie: 505 Frisco Ave. 504-833-9240. Norma and Joe run a grocery store selling exactly the kinds of meats and cheeses and olives and olive oil you want to find on a muffuletta. And they put them to good use.
3. Frank's. French Quarter: 933 Decatur. 504-525-1602. Back in the days when the discussion of the muffuletta came down to whether you thought the Central or the Progress Grocery made it better, a small crowd of non-conformists made their way down to the end of the same block as those two famous muffmakers to get the sandwich from Frank's. It's still right up there.
4. Napoleon House. French Quarter: 500 Chartres. 504-524-9752. Once the best muffuletta in town, the Napoleon House lost its consistency as it bakes those sandwiches more and more often. Still good ingredients, though, and an unbeatable old New Orleans environment.
5. Central Grocery. French Quarter: 923 Decatur. 504-523-1620. The Central Grocery is to muffulettas what Antoine's is to French-Creole food. It's not a restaurant but strictly a take-out place. A line snakes through the aisles of the small grocery store, full of Italian specialties. The meats are top-notch, but the used in quantities that may take you aback if you're used to the loaded-down suburban shops.
6. Slice. Lee Circle Area: 1513 St Charles Ave. 504-525-7437. ||Uptown: 5538 Magazine St. 504-897-4800. Pizzerias always have all the makings of muffulettas, and some even make muffuletta pizzas. (Sounds better than it is.) These classy pizza places put more emphasis on quality deli meats and cheeses than most.
7. Parran's Po-Boys. Metairie: 3939 Veterans Blvd. 504-885-3416. Big, thick, everything made in house except the bread. Ask to have it toasted before the meats and cheeses go on.
8. Giorlando's. Metairie: 741 Bonnabel. 504-835-8593. Long s great sandwich shop, Giorlando's has evolved into a fine all-around neighborhood cafe. The muffuletta is as good as the roast beef poor boy, which is saying something.
9. Katie's. Mid-City: 3701 Iberville. 504-488-6582. Tremendous in girth and thickness, with crusty, toasty bread.
10. Johnny's Po-Boys. French Quarter: 511 St Louis. 504-524-8129. The muffuletta here takes second place to the poor boys, but the latter are among the best in town. No important details are missed on the muff, and the bread is excellent.
11. Come Back Inn. Metairie: 8016 W Metairie Ave. 504-467-9316. A major specialty of this neighborhood eatery since the 1960s, it's the place a lot of Metairie people think of when the muffuletta hunger wells up.
12. Vucinovich's. New Orleans East: 4510 Michoud Blvd. 504-254-5255. If you're in extreme New Orleans East on Chef Menteur Highway, you have two choices: a great Vietnamese meal, or a poor boy, platter, or muffuletta from this consistently fine little shop."
Hmmm... Of the 12 listed, I've only tried the muffs at Central Grocery and Napoleon House, and they both *sucked* in comparison to those at Cafe Maspero's.
Calling Central the Antoine's of muffs made me feel a little better about missing Antoine's, though...
Here's the thing about Fitzmorris....when was the last time he actually had the muffs on his list? I went to Norjoes b/c he raved about their muff. I did not concur and emailed him. I received a response from Maryann(Mrs. F). She stated Tom asked her to reply. She told me: 1) she had one recently and agreed w me. 2) Tom hadn't sampled one in years 3) she told him to try one 4) he hadn't....yet he stuck to his guns still touting them on the radio.
Really, with over 10000 restaurants, how can any one person stay current? 365 days, he doesn't eat every meal out daily. It would take 3 years to visit each one,thereby making the early reviews quite dated...and that's if he made a point of not dining more than once at any venue (which he can't/doesn't).
It also depends if you like them hot or cold. I always like mine pressed, I just think they're better that way. Anyway yeah the Central Grocery is still a good one to get. You have to understand with a muffuletta it's typically enough to feed 2 people. That's why they offer them in quarters. Is the central grocery one smaller than others? Could be, but then, that only matters if you are trying to feed more than two people or you're both big eaters.
Personally when I comes to muffs I feel more isn't always better. It's about the balance of the ingredients along with the bread that makes for best flavor. I'm a Franks fan, but I like CG too. I was just in NO last week and we went to Napoleon House for dinner. The hub and youngling split a muff and neither liked it. I didn't try it, the the filling seemed to be off based on the thickness of the bread and there was a strong celery component. Anyone can do a muff, stick with the ones that really do it best. I haven't tried too many others. Since I like Frank's so much, when I'm wanting one I usually just go there. How about Verti Marte?
For me, it is also not about portion size. The comment about the portion of meat being small got my worried that the ratio of meat to the the rest of the sandwich might be better elsewhere, for the sake of balance of flavors. I'm intrigued about trying Frank's.
I was in a long line at CG's during Jazz Fest week, and before my turn they ran out of bread, so I went down the block to Frank's. A few others did as well, and the counter folk there quickly guessed CG was out...I said I heard theirs was better, and it really was the best ever! There are also a few tables there to dine-in comfortably.
I agree completely. Great is not necessarily large, though a "muff" has some size and heft, just by definition. Balance, and layers of flavor are very important.
I would typify it to a great wine: balanced, with the right amount of tannin, oak, fruit, acid, alcohol. The exact numbers are of no concern to me, so long as here is a balance - everything works in concert.
Well-stated, and from an old "Frank's" fan, from many decades ago.
Have not had the muff in the new restaurant, as we did other dishes, on our trips back. Maybe I have hesitated on the muff (and the RB po-boy), as I have such fond memories, of when Frank's M-I-L was doing a lot of the cooking. Frank was great, and so was Phyliss, but her mom was a "maestro," and it showed. I think that I am gun-shy to put the kids to the test. They remember their grandmother's food, but they were tiny back then. Also, things change, as do tastes.
Thanks for the "trip down memory lane."