In this great nation of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
"What do you look for in a good muffuletta?" I asked my bartender in the lobby bar of my hotel, which was situated in New Orleans' French Quarter.
"It's gotta be messy," the ten-year resident of the Big Easy answered confidently. "You want olive oil running down your wrists and stuff falling out when you take a bite. That means they're being generous with the fillings".
I pressed further. "Aside from Central Grocery, who else makes a good muffaletta in the French Quarter?" Without hesitation, he replied "Napoleon House."
This is how I found myself sitting at the dark, worn and weathered bar at Napoleon House restaurant, which has been serving their take on the muffaletta for years. The original Central Grocery version was allegedly conceived in 1906, and while Napoleon House is a few years younger (they launched in 1914), they also buck the trend and serve their sandwiches warm.
A half muffuletta ($7.50) arrives piping hot from the oven, dripping with melted provolone and Swiss cheese and a healthy layer of ham, genoa salami and pastrami. A housemade olive salad provides the perfect counterpoint to the meats and cheeses, and to my delight, the bartender's conjecture had come true—eating this sandwich proved impossible without getting your hands messy and dripping olive salad shrapnel and oil. It may not follow the blueprint of the traditional muffuletta, usually served cold, but a hot one makes a fine paring with a cold beer and a hangover.