Mardi Gras Eats

The Muffuletta

By Joseph R. Pellerin
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  When thinking about Mardi Gras food, the first thing that probably comes to mind is King Cake. But the muffuletta sandwich is another uniquely New Orleanian food that is perfect for this season of revelry.

  According to Louisiana lore, the muffuletta was invented in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, the owner of Central Grocery at 923 Decatur in the French Quarter. Many immigrants from Palermo, Italy made their way to New Orleans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In fact, so many Palermo natives came to live there that the Lower French Quarter was called “Little Palermo,” and Sicilian workers would buy their lunch from places like Central Grocery.

  A typical Sicilian lunch included bread, salami, cheese, and olives—eaten antipasto style. Lupo noticed that many of the workers had trouble balancing all of these items separately, so he got the bright idea to put all the ingredients on a sandwich to make them easier to carry and consume. 

  The sandwich gets its name from the Sicilian sesame bread it uses called muffuletto, which the Sicilian immigrants brought with them to New Orleans. Ingredients of a proper muffuletta sandwich include olive salad, genoa salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, and Swiss served on a round muffuletto bun that is topped with sesame seeds. Traditionally, it is a cold (room temperature) sandwich, but it can also be served warm.

  Here in Galveston, several local eateries feature this traditional favorite, and each one is as good as the next. So try them all and let the muffulettas roll this Mardi Gras.

 Placeholder imageMaceo Spice and Import Company

2706 Market | 409.763.3331 | | Mon-Sat 11am-5pm (Closed Sun)  Perhaps Galveston’s favorite muffuletta stop, according to the Maceo family story, the muffuletta was actually invented by Tony Lavoi, who sold them off a pushcart and then eventually to Central Grocery.

  R. S. Maceo started selling muffulettas out of his store shortly after his retirement, when he was looking to add another dimension to his retail spice shop. The Maceo muffuletta includes genoa salami, polish ham, provolone cheese, and house made olive salad on fresh baked sesame seed topped bread.

  The olive salad is a secret family recipe that R. S. Maceo did not even share with his own family until just shortly before his death in 2009. The baker of the bread is also a family secret.

  Maceo’s serves whole or half muffulettas either warm or at room temperature, and they also sell their famous olive salad by the jar. Start your week off right with their Monday special of ¼ muffuletta sandwich served with red beans and rice, or jazz up your celebrations with a Muffuletta party tray, available during Mardi Gras with advance order.

Placeholder image Gypsy Joynt

2711 Market | 409.497.2069 |

   Just across the street from Maceo’s, the Gypsy Joynt will be easy to find when it is time for your next muffuletta fix. The Gypsy muffuletta includes ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, and house made olive relish on homemade focaccia bread. The meat is freshly sliced and the olive relish and bread are made in house.

  For all of the flavors of a muffuletta in a slightly more adventurous format, try the Joynt’s Muffuletta Pizza, made by replacing the focaccia with pizza crust and topping it with all of the same traditional ingredients as the sandwich.

 Placeholder imageOld Strand Emporium

2425 Strand | 409.762.8566

   After trying muffulettas on Market Street, head over to the Strand. Grab a half or whole traditional muffuletta at the Old Strand Emporium, made using Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses and served on traditional sesame seed-topped bread.

 Placeholder imageHubcap Grill

2021 Strand | 409.220.3551 |

   Your next muffuletta experience awaits at the other end of the Strand. Order a quarter, half, or whole muffuletta at Hubcap Grill, where the Sicilian sandwich is piled high with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, and house made olive spread, all served on an authentic muffuletta loaf complete with sesame seeds.

 Placeholder imageSonny’s Place

1206 19th Street | 409.763.9602

   Head off the beaten path to local favorite Sonny’s, where owner Junior Puccetti put muffulettas on the menu in the 1980s and has been serving them ever since. The Sonny’s muffuletta includes ham, salami, mortadella, Swiss, provolone, and Grandma Theresa’s olive salad on fresh baked Vienna bread.

  Junior uses his mother’s family recipe for the house made olive salad, and although the Vienna bread is made on the island, Junior keeps the name of the baker a secret. Order your quarter, half, or whole muffuletta at room temperature, or get it grilled. Getting it grilled takes a little longer, costs a little more, but is completely worth it.

 Placeholder imageMosquito Café

628 14th Street | 409.763.1010 |

   The final muffuletta stop is the Mosquito Café, where the sandwich is only served a couple of times a year. But of course, one of those times is during Mardi Gras. They are served for a month or two depending on how Mardi Gras falls on the calendar, and they are also served during the summer. This year they will begin serving their muffuletta on February 1st.

  The Mosquito muffuletta includes salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, and house made olive salad on traditional bread that is baked fresh daily across the street at Patty Cake’s Bakery.

More Island Muffuletta Choices

 Black Pearl

327 23rd Street



1200 Seawall Blvd.



512 14th Street


Papa’s Pizza

4400 Seawall Blvd.