A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 24, 2007
Muffuletta (Muffaletta; Mufalatta; Muff Sandwich)

The “muffuletta” (or “muffaletta” or any number of spellings) is a sandwich that is served in a large, round loaf of crusty Sicilian bread, with three meats (capicola, salami, mortadella), cheese (provolone), and an olive salad. Most scholars credit the origin of the sandwich to Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo’s Central Grocery (opened in 1906) on Decatur Street in New Orleans. The Progress Grocery on Decatur Street also claimed to have created the sandwich, around 1895.
Schlotzsky’s Deli began in Austin, Texas in 1971 with one sandwich called “The Original,” inspired by the New Orleans muffuletta sandwich. Jason’s Deli was founded in Beaumont, Texas in 1976, and also features a “muffaletta” sandwich. Both Schlotzsky’s and Jason’s have been franchised.
In 2002, newspaper articles were published (see below) crediting Anthony Lavoi of Galveston for originating the muffuletta when he was living in New Orleans. Maceo Spice & Imports of Galveston serves muffulettas and claims to hold the original recipe, with a secret muffuletta olive dressing.
The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italianjawbreaker, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, pistolette, po’ boy (poor boy), rocket, skyscraper, spiedie, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, torta (Mexican po’ boy), wedge and zeppelin (zep).
Wikipedia: Muffuletta
The muffuletta (with numerous alternate spellings) is a type of Sicilian bread, as well as a sandwich in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is made with that bread.
The bread is a large, round, and somewhat flat loaf, around 10 inches (25 cm) across. It has a sturdy texture, and is described as being somewhat similar to focaccia.
The muffuletta sandwich originated in 1906 at Central Grocery, which was operated by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. The sandwich is popular with city natives and visitors, and has been described as “one of the great sandwiches of the world.” Central Grocery still serves the sandwich using the original recipe. Other variations are served throughout the city. The locals have differing opinions on which shop serves the best muffuletta.
A typical muffuletta consists of one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated through to soften the provolone.
The olive salad is considered the heart of the sandwich, and consists primarily of olives, along with celery, cauliflower, and carrot. The ingredients are combined, seasonings are added, covered in olive oil and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours. Prepared olive salad for muffulettas can also be bought by the jar in New Orleans grocery stores.
The muffuletta is the signature sandwich at the Jason’s Deli chain and also at Murphy’s Deli. Schlotzsky’s chain of restaurants features sandwiches using sourdough muffuletta bread.
Wikipedia: Schlotzsky’s
Schlotzsky’s is a privately held franchise chain of restaurants specializing in sandwiches. As of November 20, 2006, Schlotzsky’s has nearly 380 franchised and company-owned locations in 36 states in the United States and in six other countries around the world, generating $210 million in systemwide revenue. Most of the locations are across the south and southwestern United States.
Don and Delores Dissman founded the company in 1971 in Austin, Texas. The initial menu consisted of a sandwich of mixed meats, cheeses and black olives toasted on a freshly made sourdough bun. The sandwich was called “The Original.” The bun was claimed to be Muffuletta bread.
Wikipedia: Jason’s Deli
Jason’s Deli is a fast casual restaurant chain, serving sandwiches, soups, salads and baked potatoes with side orders.
Jason’s Deli was founded in 1976 in Beaumont, Texas by Joe Tortorice, and his partners are Pat Broussard, Rusty Coco, and Pete Verde. The original deli is still in operation in the Gateway Shopping Center. The chain started franchising in 1983 with the first franchise deli in Tucson, Arizona.
The majority of the over 150 units are in Texas, the Southeast U.S. and the Southwest U.S., but expansion into the east coast and other regions is underway. The parent company is Deli Management, Inc., which owns the majority of the Jason’s Delis. Both the number of company-owned delis and franchises are on the rise. The newest additions include a store on Wilcrest at Westheimer in Houston,TX and a smaller store in Flower Mound, Texas, that is the first to feature drive thru service. Stores are coming soon for downtown Dallas, TX, and Phoenix, AZ.
Inside the Deli
The muffaletta is Jason’s Deli’s signature sandwich. It is served on 9-inch sesame seed bread with ham and hard salami, or turkey, with provolone cheese and an olive mixture. 
Wikipedia: Barq’s
Barq’s [pronounced “Barks”] is an American soft drink company. “Barq’s” was long the name of the company’s signature product, now known as Barq’s Famous Olde Tyme Root Beer, a brand of root beer notable for being the only major North American root beer to contain caffeine. It has been bottled since the start of the 20th century and is currently sold by The Coca-Cola Company.
The Barq’s Brothers Bottling Company was founded in 1890 in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, by Edward Charles Edmond Barq and his younger brother, Gaston. The Barq Brothers bottled carbonated water and various soft drinks of their own creation. Early on their most popular creation was an orange-flavored soda called Orangine, which won a gold medal at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
Edward Barq moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1897 with his new wife. The following year he opened the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works. 1898 is often given as the debut year for what was later to be known as “Barq’s root beer,” but some sources say this particular product was not produced until some two years later.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
muffuletta, n.
Forms: 19- muffalata, 19- muffaleta, 19- muffaletta, 19- muffaletto, 19- muffuletta. [< Italian regional (Sicily) muffuletta a round hollow-centred loaf of bread, perh. < muffola (1550 in sense ‘muffle’ (MUFFLE n.5), prob. < Middle French moufle: see MUFFLE n.2) + -etta (see -ET suffix1), although this is uncertain and disputed. Perh. cf. Italian muffuliette Sicilian soft rolls flavoured with saffron and anise.] 
A thick sandwich filled with charcuterie and olive paste, a speciality of the Italian community in New Orleans. More fully muffuletta sandwich.
1967 New Orleans Mag. Jan. 62/2 The Muffuletta, a Swiss cheese, Genoa salami, ham, mortadella and olive salad combination registers 1,390 calories.
1973 R. H. COLLIN New Orleans Underground Gourmet 213 Charlie’s carriesand indeed proudly featureslocal specialties that most New Yorkers have never dreamed of, such as oyster poor boys, Muffulettas, and moon sandwiches.
1979 Jrnl. Royal Soc. Arts Nov. 764/2 Once a year the Italian community comes to the fore to celebrate its presence, and they do so by selling Italian specialities and local concoctions (muffalatas, salami, cheese, etc.) on the day of their patron saint.
1986 B. FUSSELL I hear Amer. Cooking II. viii. 127 ‘Muffuletta’ is the local hero, submarine, or hoagie sandwich, piled with the usual Italian charcuterie meats but topped with a chopped olive-and-garlic salad that smothers the whole. 1999 Globe & Mail (Toronto) 7 July C5/2 Olive salad a variation of tapenade, is what makes muffalettas so wonderful. Keep some on hand for any sandwich.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
Abbr muffa Also sp mufalatta, muffaletta [Sicilian dial muffuletta a soft, spongy roll] esp c.sLA
A sandwich on a large, round bun, consisting of var meats, cheeses, and olive salad with an oil dressing; the bun used for this sandwich
1969 AmSp 42.283 New Orleans, LA, Submarine sandwich…Musalatta [sic]
1979 DARE File cLA, I also include the evidence on muffaletta from the Metairie restaurant. Apparently the artifact isn’t known universally in New Orleans..but it appears in Baton Rouge. Two restaurants in the ‘Tigertown’ area off the campus to the north advertise them—different spellings, one as muffuletta and the other just as muffulett (perhaps not enough room on the marquee).
1981 Pederson LAGS Basic Materials, 1 inf, New Orleans LA, Sandwich with different types of sausages.
1984 Stall Proud New Orleans 14, There was a time in the city’s history when, because of economic conditions, Italians almost filled the French Quarter…Salvatore Tusa, owner of the Central Grocery on Decatur Street, began making a large sandwich…with a round bread called muffuletta and named it the “muffuletta sandwich.” The eight-inch diameter bread topped with sesame seeds was cut in half and each side was coated with high-grade imported olive oil…To this were added generous layers of imported cheeses, ham and salami, then topped off with a homemade olive salad especially made by Central Grocery.
1991 NADS Letters, The French Quarter in New Orleans has several ethnic grocery stores that served po-boys and mufalattas.
1993 DARE File sLA, Spelled: muffuletta; said: Muff-uh-Lot-uh; made: one italian roll (not rench, but the big round one that looks like an overgrown hamburger bun)—olive salad, prosciutto, cappacola, salami, provolone.
Ibid csLA, I’m in Lafayette, about 100 miles from the Big Easy, and we have some darn good muffulettas here too.
Ibid cTX, I had wonderful muffaletta sandwiches in Austin back in 1970-76.
Ibid sLA, Mickey’s has been serving muffalettas since 1950. They started in 1927 at Central Grocery, in the Quarter, in downtown New Orleans. It’s a “Nawlins” poor boy. We said “muffa.” We’d say, “Let’s go get a muffa.”
19 March 1938, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 8, col. 7 ad:
Table Delicacies from All Over the World
. The store with the old French Market atmosphere.
. Originators in 1906 of Italian antipasto.
. The only store in the South to import and sell Genuine Italian Spaghetti.
. The only place to get Montecatini drinking water crystals.
923 Decatur MA 1620
(Mention of 1906 “Italian antipasto,” but no mention of a sandwich—ed.)
23 April 1955, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “Up and Down the Street” by the Want-Ad Reporter, pg. 28, col. 1:
An attached dodger suggests: “Try our famous Italian Muffuletta sandwich—a service for four.” (You slice Muffuletta like a pie.)
12 March 1958, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 14, col. 6 ad:
Sunrise dated daily
Enjoy Muffuletta with Your Meals
FRESH dated daily BREAD
23 April 1958, New Orleans (LA)

, “This Town of Ours” by Andy Reising, pg. 5 ad:
We feel that this is one of the reasons Sunrise muffuletta has found such favor as New Orleans’ family bread. Muffuletta just naturally belongs with good food. It has the happy ability to fit in with whatever you plan to serve. The flavor of muffuletta excites the taste and increases the enjoyment not only of the bread but of every dish in the meal. Generous servings of muffuletta bread are welcome whether you are entertaining formally or having the neighbors over for barbecued chicken thie week end.
Next time you’re in the French Market section, visit our new French Market branch, 929 Decatur. It’s just across the street from the French market. We’re open round the clock for your convenience.
18 July 1964, New orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, sec. 3, pg. 8, col. 8 ad:
Cooked Italian Foods, sea foods, artichokes and Muffuletta sandwiches. Carry out service. Airline Hardware and Delicatessen, in rear of 2001 Airline Hwy. at Palmetto Overpass.
4 February 1968, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Our Hero Wants a Sandwich” by Francis Raffetto, section F, pg. 3:
What our cartoonist has in mind is the hero he met in New Orleans. A wise taxidriver drove him through the crowded French Quarter, to an old grocery store 1 1/2 blocks off Jackson Square. he did not whisper “Say that Butch sent you.”
McClanahan thought it was a joke, but he went inside. The proprietor took a loaf of bread and started piling in thinly sliced meats, anchovies, tomatoes, cheese. it cost $1.
24 August 1972, The States-Item (New Orleans, LA), “Lagniappe” by Thomas Griffin, pg. 35, col. 1:
POTPOURRI—Giving credit where it’s due for the muffuletta sandwich, Mrs. WIlliam Henneberg Jr. says the late Salvatore Lupo founder of the Central Grocery on Decatur Street, was the originator, and that his grandson, S. Thomas Tusa, still carries on the tradition…And didja know there’s now an hors d’oeuvre-size muffuletta (a little bigger than a silver dollar) created by Gordon “Tiny” Trentecosta of Chiffon Caterers in Arabi?
The New Orleans Underground Gourmet
by Richard H. Collin
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 131: 
The Central Grocery Company (923 Decatur St.—ed.) is a fine old food market in the French Quarter dispensing cheeses, imported foods, great aromas, cold cuts, and that great New Orleans Italian sandwich, the Muffuletta (highly recommended)—salami, cheese, olive salad, and ham on a huge round loaf of Italian bread. The Central’s version of this local favorite is one of the best.
Pg. 137: 
The Progress Grocery (915 Decatur St.—ed.) is one of the great food emporiums in New Orleans. Here one can obtain all kinds of exotic foods imported from all over the world. Amid the sacks of flour, grains, and spices, the Progress turns out one of the formidable sandwiches of the world, and a New Orleans favorite, the Muffuletta (highly recommended). This is a huge Italian feast of salami, ham, cheese, olive salad, and garlic on a large round loaf. I have never been able to eat a whole sandwich at one sitting; one sandwich should comfortably feed two for lunch. The cost is $1.15 and the Progress version of the Muffuletta is one of the very best in town.
Pg. 213: 
Charlie’s (Charlie’s New York Delicatessen, 2023 Metairie—ed.) carries—and indeed proudly features—local specialties that most New Yorkers have never dreamed of, such as oyster poor boys, Muffulettas, and moon sandwiches (they are “out of this world,” and consist of ham, cheese and roast beef).
21 December 1975, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Old Market Restored in New Orleans” by Jean Simmons, section C, pg. 10:
Also on Decatur are several stores, such as Central Grocery and Progress Grocery, that serve Muffulettas, a winning combination sandwich of ham, salami, cheese and olive salad. These groceries specialize in French, Italian, Greek, Arabic and other foreign imported foods. 
22 May 1976, Brandon (Manitoba) Sun, “Eating in New Orleans” by Evelyn Oldham, pg. 13, col. 3:
To feel a little like a native, a visitor can order a muffuletto sandwich at the Central Grocery store on Decatur Street a block or so from the French Market. It consists of slices of cheese, meat and salad in a round, flat loaf of bread—plenty for two.
11 July 1976, New York (NY) Times, “New Orleans, Italian style” by Mimi Sheraton, pg. 171:
Creole daubes of beef with their rich brown gravy are served with spaghetti at many New Orleans-Italian restaurants, and the city’s salumerias all turn out the muffaletto, a round variation on the hero sandwich, distinguished by a layer of olive and caper salad with plenty of its oil marinade to bathe the bread.
27 July 1976, Idaho Free Press & News-Tribune (Nampa, ID), “New Orleans sandwich steals Dagwood’s show,” pg. 14, cols. 6-8:
NEW ORLEANS (UPI)—In a city famed for mouthwatering workingman’s foods such as roast beef poor boy sandwiches and red beans and rice, the Creole-Italian muffuletta is a special feast.
Slices of provolone cheese, Genoa salami and Italian ham topped wit ha freshly made, well-seasoned olive salad and tucked between slices of the special muffuletta loaf—a 10-inch crusty disc sprinkled with sesame seeds—form a sandwich to feed two adults for about $2.40.
New Orleans is the only place to get a true muffuletta, although flimsy imitations have been reported in New York and Chicago. Forget Italy.
“You go to Italy and ask them to make a muffuletta and they don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Frank Tusa, co-owner of the Central Grocery.
No one is quite sure who created the sandwich, although it is generally agreed it came into being about the turn of the century. The basis of the sandwich is the muffuletta loaf, which Tusa said probably cannot be duplicated anywhere else because the New Orleans water and humid climate are factors.
The Central Grocery, across the street from the French Market, consistently is rated by local food writers as the best muffuletta shop in town. A sign out front identifies it as the “Home of the original muffuletta” despite Tusa’s insistence the shop is a grocery first.
10 October 1976, The Times-Picayune, “Remoulade: Muffuletta Born And Bread Here” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 49, col. 3:
It’s in the form of a revealing letter from Mari Lupo Tusa, daughter of Salvatore Lupo, founder in 1906 of Central Grocery on Decatur, together with her brother-in-law, Gaetano DeMajo.
“The muffuletta originated at Central Grocery, said Mrs. Tusa. It was not a deliberate attempt to create a mammoth sandwich. Rather, it evolved. The Sicilian farmers would bring their produce to the French Market to sell. At lunch time they would go to my father’s grocery and would buy small quantities of Italian cold cuts, cheese and olive salad. My father also sold a round, puffy, Sicilian-style bread called muffuletta. This bread was baked in small quantities by a Sicilian baker in the neighborhood. In the beginning, the farmers ate the bread with the cold cuts, cheese and olive salad. Eventually, my father suggested to his customers that he put it all together as a sandwich for them. The sandwich was referred to as a muffuletta because that was the name of the bread. In Sicily there was no such thing as a muffuletta sandwich—only muffuletta bread.”
7 July 1983, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, pg. B10, col. 1 ad:
Muffeletta: A 6-foot submarine sandwich, “if you dare.”
(Syracuse Marriott—ed.)
26 February 1984, New York (NY) Times, “The Allure of New Orleans” by Roy Reed, pg. XX14:
You buy a muffuletta sandwich at the Central Grocery, a block away, and walk back to the square with the store’s mist of olive oil, garlic and Italian cheese in your head.
25 February 1990, New York (NY) Times, “Hefty Sandwiches of New Orleans” by Cynthis Hacinli, Pg. XX12:
Historically speaking, the muffuletta has several decades on the po’boy. The Central Grocery on Decatur Street is the self-proclaimed progenitor of this dinner-plate-sized sandwich. As the legend goes, around the turn of the century a grocer named Sal Lupo layered meats, cheeses and the crushed leavings from the bottom of the olive barrel on a round Italian bread and called it a muffuletta. Muffuletta was the baker who made the sesame-studded loaves; he was also a regular at the grocery. Central is now owned by the Tusas, descendants of the Lupos, and still makes the quintessential muffuletta, but that hasn’t stopped others from coming up with their own versions.
Boston (MA) Globe
The big uneasy: who invented the muffuletta?
By Clea Simon, Globe Correspondent, 02/03/02
Decatur, which runs the length of the Quarter from Canal Street down past Esplanade Avenue, has its fill of New Orleans attractions. The House of Blues holds down one end, Jackson Square with its cathedral and street musicians grounds the middle, and the French Market marks the far side, where it runs off into the adjacent Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. It’s down at this end that those interested in this huge, round sandwich come. Although the sandwich has by now made its way onto the menu of almost every casual restaurant in town, this is where the super sub - a pile of Italian cheeses and cold cuts topped by a greasy, salty, chopped olive spread - was invented, some say perfected.
The only question remaining is: By whom?
“Imitated by all, duplicated by none,” boasts the aprons for sale at Central Grocery at 935 Decatur St. “Home of the original muffuletta,” the window says.
“My grandfather originated the muffuletta,” argues Nick E. LoGiuduce, who works most days at Luigi’s, two doors down at 915 Decatur. Luigi’s is the new name of the old Progress Grocery, which stood in that location from 1928 until last winter, but although the Tadero family now owns the little deli, LoGiuduce and his family have been here far longer. “That was in 1895. Before Central, before anybody.”
“They’re newcomers on the street,” counters Larry Tusa, whose family opened Central Grocery in 1906, when they claim to have originated the signature sandwich. “We’ve known them for years. When the line for our muffulettas reaches down the street and blocks their door, it gets a little touchy!”
The truth may never be known. As LoGiuduce explains it, the name came from the name of the bread. His sandwich wrapper says “muffuletta soft Italian bread.” To Tusa, who runs Central with his brothers Frank and Sal (a.k.a. “Tommy”), that doesn’t make LoGiuduce’s claim more valid: LoGiuduce’s “grandfather was the man who baked the bread. He baked the bread for the folks who made the sandwiches, which was Central Grocery. You can take to church what I’m telling you!”
If pressed, both will agree that it was probably hungry workers who first put the sandwich together. The ingredients were simply those familiar to the Sicilian immigrants who flocked to the city in the late 1890s. “When they came here, being Sicilian, they came to the grocer where the proprietor was from the same town in Sicily,” says Tusa. “They got to speak the language and be friendly with some friendly faces. And they decided instead of just buying olives and salami and a piece of bread, time would be saved by having the sandwiches ready for regular customers who came in at regular times.”
Says LoGiuduce: “It was the Americans called the whole sandwich a muffuletta. My uncle always just called it a Roman sandwich.”
Whatever its origins, the muffuletta is worth fighting over. Set in a white, round Italian roll as big across as a dinner plate, a proper muffuletta is piled about an inch high with layers of provolone cheese, mortadella, Genoa salami, and cappicola ham. The olive spread on top - a mix of chopped green olives, garlic, celery, onions, and other delectables in oil - soaks into the bread and lubricates the fillings.
Suffice it to say, one whiff and the partisan feelings are explained. With a bag of the local Zapp’s potato chips and a Barq’s root beer, it’s more than a meal.
8 September 2002, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “1935 pro baseball pitcher Maceo says it’s all in the olive salad” by Bill Cherry, pg. C16, cols. 1-6:
The muffaletta sandwich was the invention of a Sicilian immigrant who opened a small grocery in New Orleans in 1906. His name was Anthony Lavoi. he would take the broken oil pieces and oil from the bottom of the barrels in his store, spread them on a round baguette, add some thinly sliced mortadella, mozzarella, salami, provolone and ham, then douse the whole thing with a mixture of red wine vinegar, olive oil and finely chopped garlic. The Italians call those crusty rolls “muffas.” Lavoi called his sandwich a muffaletta.
Almost from the day Lavoi concocted and sold his first sandwich, one old Sicilian after another tried to claim it as his own invention. It obtained its notoriety at the Central Grocery on New Orleans’ Decatur Street, and it’s still sold there today.
Anthony Lavoi was the great uncle of R. S. Maceo Sr., and Maceo’s got the original recipe. And it’s from that original recipe that most days Mr. R. S. makes muffalettas for sale at his store.
What separates the authentic muffaletta from the copy is the recipe for the sandwich spread that we aficionados refer to as “olive salad.” It’s one of those things you either make right or wrong. There’s no such thing as a reasonably OK olive salad. And the muffaletta has to be made with a muffa roll.
The only thing missing at Maceo’s is Barq’s Root Bee, and for all I know it could be that Barq’s isn’t even made anymore. Nevertheless, in the old days, a Barq’s was to a muffaletta what a beer is to a pretzel.
Houston (TX) Chronicle
Galveston, Texas Family Lays Claim to First Muffuletta Sandwich.
Publication Date: 24-NOV-02
Byline: David Kaplan
Nov. 24—GALVESTON, Texas—While making a muffuletta in the kitchen of Maceo Spice & Import Co., Rosario Maceo shared a few of his opinions on the sandwich.
It’s ridiculous the things people put in them, Maceo said. They use the wrong meats and even put “cauliflower and that other crap” in the olive dressing.
Watching television recently, he saw a well-known chef create a muffuletta, and the finished product “looked so goofy I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“He was using lettuce, Ronnie,” Maceo said to his son in disbelief.
Oh, and Maceo also mentioned that the muffuletta was invented by his great-uncle, Tony Lavoi, in New Orleans, and only Maceo Spice & Import has the recipe.
“We make the original,” Maceo said emphatically. “Don’t give him the recipe,” he instructed his son while pointing to a reporter.
Rosario and Ronnie Maceo, of the legendary Galveston Maceo family, are father-and-son proprietors of the Strand-area shop where their muffuletta is sold.
Maceo family lore is richer than their olive dressing. Their relatives ran the famous and wildly entertaining Balinese Room, a pier restaurant and illegal casino, which drew Hollywood’s elite.
For decades the Maceos just about ran Galveston.
So when Rosario Maceo says an ancestor came up with the muffuletta, one stops to listen.
But while the 84-year-old Maceo claims to be the genealogical heir to the muffuletta of origin, he and his son don’t seem to be trying very hard to capitalize on it. 
Conventional wisdom has it that Central Grocery in New Orleans came up with the sandwich in 1906.
One of the current owners of Central Grocery, Frank Tusa, said by phone that the sandwich was indeed first put together at his grocery store. The Tusa family took over the grocery in 1953. Tusa credited his father, Charlie Tusa, and late uncle, Frank Tusa, with popularizing the muffuletta.
Rosario Maceo’s version of the muffuletta’s birth is that his great uncle, a native of Palermo, Sicily, came to New Orleans and created the sandwich around 1901.
As a boy of 7 or so, Rosario hung around his Uncle Tony and watched him make the sandwich. His kitchen was in a warehouse in the French Quarter, where he made the buns, too, Maceo said.
Lavoi sold muffulettas from a wooden pushcart at the corner of Royal and Dumain, Maceo said, and they were wrapped in pages of the New Orleans Picayune.
Maceo said his great-uncle supplied Central Grocery with six to eight muffulettas a day.
Maceo’s ancestors moved from New Orleans to Galveston, where they would make their name in the entertainment business.
Their Maceo Spice & Imports is on the outskirts of Galveston’s Strand district, not on one of its trendy streets. Several of the spaces around the import shop are empty. Across the street is an old furniture store.
In 1973, Ronnie opened the Turf Tap Room and Grill in Galveston and needed a sandwich to serve. His father recalled his great-uncle’s recipe and began making the muffuletta.
Their muffulettas are made with salami, ham, provolone cheese, olive dressing and olive oil—all of it imported.
Do they ever use turkey?

“No! Hell no!” Rosario said.
Some muffuletta aficionados believe the sandwich should only be eaten at room temperature, but Rosario insisted that a reporter bite into it immediately after it came out of the oven.
After the reporter complimented him on the sandwich, Maceo insisted that he include in the article how much he liked it.
“The secret is in the olive dressing, my friend,” Rosario said.
The big, round sandwich weighs a pound and a half and sells for $8.95. They sell halves for $4.95.
But there is one recipe Rosario doesn’t share with his son: The one for muffuletta olive dressing.
He has told no one.
“It’s probably gonna go with him,” Ronnie said.
“Before I pass, I’ll let him know,” Rosario said.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, December 24, 2007 • Permalink

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