Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Great American sandwich

Where to find soul-satisfying muffuletta in Tampa Bay.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 10:06 AM

click to enlarge WHOLE LOTTA SANDWICH: A traditional muffuletta is much more than a mouthful. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • WHOLE LOTTA SANDWICH: A traditional muffuletta is much more than a mouthful.

With Big Easy origins, muffuletta has made quite the name for itself since its alleged invention at New Orleans’ Central Grocery in 1906. The hearty sandwich consists of crusty yet soft-on-the-inside Sicilian sesame bread, followed by a slathering of lust-worthy olive salad and layers of mortadella, ham, salami, mozzarella and Swiss.

Whether you prefer it cold or heated, half- or quarter-sized, don’t pass up ordering this Italian favorite the next time you’re at one of these spots.

Cacciatore & Sons The Cacciatores came to Ybor City from Italy in 1896, establishing a butcher shop that also sold groceries and other home goods. Now run by the fourth generation, Cacciatore & Sons offers a whole muffuletta (read: massive) that serves four. 3614 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa, 813-872-7255, cacciatoreandsons.com.

Cesarina Deli & Bakery Largo locals swear by this inexpensive East Bay eatery, and not just for the classic muffuletta. Other Italian sandwiches, baked treats and desserts get high marks, too. Grab a bite to go any day but Sunday. 2575 E. Bay Dr., Largo, 727-536-2119.

Jason’s Deli If you dare, this fast-casual deli chain serves up a nine-inch muffuletta that feeds as many as the Cacciatores’ sammie. Choose a classic ham and salami muffuletta or a roasted turkey breast variation. There’s another Jason’s Deli along Fowler Avenue near USF Tampa. 25801 U.S. 19 N. #110, Clearwater, 727-793-0446, jasonsdeli.com.

Lulu’s Beach House and Cafe Housed in a quaint cottage in downtown Palm Harbor, Lulu’s swaps Swiss cheese for mozzarella in its muffuletta. Sit at the bar and slurp a fresh smoothie while chowing on your sandwich. 917 11th St., Palm Harbor, 727-831-7742, lulusbeachhouse.com.

Mazzaro's Italian Market Classically served cold, this muffuletta is among Mazzaro’s countless deli sandwich offerings. It is generous in size and costs a mere $5.50. For an authentic taste, order the sammie sans its default dressings. 2909 22nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-321-2400, mazzarosmarket.com.

Mott & Hester Deli Along with five types of po’ boys, Mott & Hester, which is part deli and part catering service, chose muffuletta as one of its New Orleans-style menu items. Though this muffuletta features French bread rather than Italian (the two loaves are similar), it’s still layered with traditional dressings. 1155 S. Dale Mabry Highway #10, Tampa, 813-289-9758, mottandhesterdeli.com.

Moxie’s Cafe A true Tampanian muffuletta. Hot pressed, it consists of capicola, salami, provolone and homemade olive salad on — you guessed it — Cuban bread. 514 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 813-221-4510, moxiesdowntown.com.

Nosh Cafe Run by the former owner of Moxie’s, Nosh Cafe’s muffuletta is also created atop a Cuban loaf and then pressed. 4058 Tampa Road, Oldsmar, 813-891-0700, nosholdsmar.com.

Pasta Bowl Meatball sliders, pastas, cannolis and more accompany muffuletta on this food truck's Italian bill. Its sammie incorporates provolone with the usual trio of cold cuts. Facebook is the best way to stay updated on the locale of these four wheels. Tampa, 727-439-6565.

Ricky P’s Po Boy Shop This po’ boy joint is small compared to the Ricky P’s bistro on Central Avenue, but its specialization in sandwiches makes the stop off Fourth Street worth it. Dressed in the restaurant’s olive salad, the “Frenchaletta” is comprised of ham, salami, mortadella, provolone and French bread. 6521 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-525-2023, rickyps.com.

Roux Datz and Dough owners Roger and Suzanne Perry plan to offer muffuletta on the soon-to-open Roux’s lunchtime lineup. Dough has been baking muffuletta bread since late March. 4205 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-443-5255.

Tampa Tap Room A sports bar with Cajun-Creole cuisine and drink specials. The tap room’s muffuletta, sliced into quarters, is a whole lotta sandwich packed between traditional sesame bread. Prepare to get messy. 13150 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, 813-961-2337.

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