The muffuletta is one of New Orleans’ most iconic and quintessential eats. Traditionally, the colossal sandwich is stacked with Italian cured meats, cheeses, and the signature marinated olive salad, all stuffed inside a round seed–studded loaf. The symphony of flavors coming from the salty meats, creamy cheeses, and tangy olive salad makes for an unbeatable combination, especially as the oil and juices from the olive salad seep into the sturdy loaf.
This incredible sandwich—named for the bread it is served on—is said to have been invented in the French Quarter at Central Grocery, a specialty market that was opened in 1906 by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo. At that time, Italian bakers made round muffuletta loaves that were peddled by street vendors in the French Quarter’s open market. Farmers and fishermen who sold their products in the area would buy the bread from these vendors and purchase fillings—olive salad, cold cuts, and cheese—from nearby Italian groceries for lunch. Salvatore got the idea to sell pre-assembled muffuletta sandwiches to provide his customers with an easy, portable meal.
Since its creation, the muffuletta has inspired countless versions throughout Louisiana, and as with any of New Orleans’ traditional dishes, opinions abound on what should go on it, whether it should be served hot or at room temperature, how it should be spelled, and even how it should be pronounced—some say muff-uh-letta, while others say muff-uh-lotta, moof-uh-letta, or moof-uh-lotta.
No matter how you slice it, the muffuletta is one of the best culinary creations to come out of New Orleans. Today, the Crescent City is not the only place in Louisiana where you can find one of these superb sandwiches. From the French Quarter to the Capital City and beyond, here are our favorite versions of muffulettas throughout Louisiana.
For more than 40 years, DiMartino’s has been turning out muffulettas, po’ boys, and Italian specialties on the Westbank of New Orleans. Owner Peter DiMartino, who opened his first location in Terrytown in 1975, fell in love with the muffuletta not only because of how it tastes but also because of the fascinating history behind it.
His love for the sandwich is evident in DiMartino’s attention to detail, including sourcing premium ingredients and ensuring that every dish is made to perfection. Ham, soppressatta, mortadella, provolone, and Swiss cheese are precisely weighed to ensure each muffuletta is filled with the perfect mixture of meats and cheeses. The sandwich is run through a toaster oven before being topped with a generous heap of garlicky olive salad. The juxtaposition of cold olive salad against the warm interior and crusty bread creates unbeatable layers of flavor.
Now that it has grown to three quick-casual locations and one full-service restaurant, DiMartino’s is fulfilling Peter’s personal mission of bringing classic New Orleans dishes to more people.
“There’s no other sandwich like the muffuletta,” Peter says. “It’s the Italians’ contribution to the city of New Orleans.”