Central Grocery

From New Orleans Restaurants

No trip to New Orleans is complete for me without a trip to Central Grocery for a Muffuletta. Detractors can fill the comments section with why they dislike the Central Grocery Muffuletta and why their favorite is so much better, have at it, but for my money Central Grocery does everything right with the sandwich that is said to have been created here by Salvatore Lupo.

Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant opened the store in 1906 and operated it until 1946 when he retired and passed the reins to his son-in law Salvatore Tusa. The Muffuletta is said to have been invented early on to feed the Sicilian and Italian truck drivers who were driving produce, etc. to The French Market. The store is still in the family and has changed little over the years, with the exception of increased tourist traffic. Salvatore Lupo’s daughter, Marie Lupo Tusa released a cookbook in 1980 called Marie’s Melting Pot
.

Central Grocery is an old style Italian market, with Italian imports, pasta, olive oil, meats, cheeses as well as local New Orleans Creole items.

From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants
From New Orleans Restaurants

The Central Grocery Muffuletta has everything that a great Muffuletta should, a great mix of Genoa Salami, Mortadella, Ham, Mozzarella, Provolone (my Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe), a wonderful chunky Olive Salad made with Sicilian Olives just crushed, not chopped, Gardiniera, oregano, lots of oil (my Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe) , and the quintessential bread, the round muffuletta loaf, about 10-11″ across topped with sesame seeds, light in the center with a nice crust (my Muffuletta Bread Recipe).

From New Orleans Restaurants

I love this sandwich so much that on one trip, I had all of my other meals locked in except for breakfast, and alas, purchased and almost killed an entire Central Grocery Muffuletta while sitting on the banks of the Mississippi while watching the barges roll by, and listening to a street musician trumpet the most somber rendition of Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans that I have ever heard (and I mean that as the highest compliment). All this before 10 o’clock a.m. while my wife slept-in back at the hotel.

From New Orleans Restaurants

By the way, in my humble opinion, sitting on the riverwalk is definately the best way to enjoy the Central Grocery Muffuletta, maybe not for breakfast, but definately for lunch. Grab a cold Louisiana beer or Barq’s Root Beer from the liquor store a few doors down, find a nice spot on the river and enjoy a piece of New Orleans that you won’t soon forget. Don’t forget to tip the musician who will surely cement the experience in your memory.

From New Orleans Restaurants

If you don’t get to enjoy a Muffuletta during your visit to New Orleans, at least grab one to go for the plane or car ride home! There is nothing more soul satisfying than unwrapping an enormous Muffuletta on a plane or in an airport food court and releasing the vapor of garlic and cured pork, where the captive diners will undoubtedly administer the stink eye, or question you as to where you found that sandwich, as if you found such perfection at the airport. When asked from airports in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, wherever… ‘Where did you get that sandwich?’ it is always fun to give a half cocked smile and casually say ‘New Orleans’, then take a HUGE bite out of that sucker as if it was your last morsel on earth, then shake your head in amazement as to how wonderful it tastes. Trust me, you won’t have to act.

Central Grocery
(504) 620-0174
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116

If you can’t make it to New Orleans I have recipes for all of the components of the Mighty Muffuletta here:

Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
Muffuletta Olice Salad Recipe
Muffuletta Bread Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole and Cajun Recipes, which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!!

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Napoleon House

Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana

From Cochon Butcher

My copy of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana arrived last Thursday, and I was like a kid opening his first gift on Christmas morning, shuffling for something to open the box with, flinging aside the bubble wrap to stare into a beautifully photographed crock of Gumbo. The title is in big bold white letters REAL CAJUN, as if to say, ok, enough with the blackening already, enough with the notion that everything Cajun is super spicy, enough with the Bourbon Chicken in the food courts; let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Real Cajun, rustic, simple, home cooked meals.

It seems only fitting that the Chef owner of Cochon, and Cochon Butcher (no, I’m not forgetting Herbsaint), would have homemade Bacon as the first recipe in his cookbook, with the first “chapter” bearing the title La Vie Cochon, with recipes including Tasso, Boudin, Pork Belly Cracklins, and more. The most mouthwatering recipe in this chapter, in my humble opinion, is Smothered Pork Roast over Rice, a simple recipe based on his Granny’s preparation, with a photo so beautiful that I swear you will try to lick the wooden spoon before the sauce drips back into the pot.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that he didn’t include more Charcuterie than he did, but I totally understand why he didn’t, keeping it practical for the home cook I guess. (I have my fingers crossed for a follow up book surrounding Louisiana Charcuterie, or a Cochon cookbook.) Don’t get me wrong though, the Charcuterie recipes that are included, Bacon, Boudin, Tasso, Deer Sausage, etc.. are top notch, I can’t wait to try Chef Link’s Boudin recipe, the photo is outstanding as are all of the photos in this book all by Chris Granger. I was looking for Chef Link’s Andouille, Hog’s Head Cheese, and Creole Mustard, but the recipes that filled these spaces totally made up for it and more.

The book’s recipes are wonderful in their simplicity (this is not a restaurant cookbook, although some of the dishes from his restaurants appear) with beautiful photographs that make me long to be in the stifling heat of Louisiana everytime I look at them. Some of the photographs from the book are hanging on the walls of Chef Link’s private dining facility Calcasieu, which is next store and upstairs from Cochon Butcher.

From Cochon Butcher

Real Cajun is mostly cookbook and part memoir, which all builds wonderfully around the recipes, just the kind of cookbook that I love, and reminiscent of another favorite of mine, Marcelle Bienvenu’s Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux? What comes through in both books is a love of Louisiana, real Cajun cuisine, family, and tradition.

This book is loaded with great recipes, I’ve tried out a few of them now, all were absolutely outstanding. Including Catfish Fried in Bacon Fat. The bacon fat adds an incredible richness to the crisp and moist catfish without taking over the flavor. I also made my own Tartar sauce as an accompaniment with crumbled Bacon added to it; what the hell right, the cholesterol meter is already broken. This is probably the best Catfish that I’ve made:

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

I also made the Chicken & Dumplings, a lot of great technique in this recipe, the best I thought was putting the pan into a 450 degree F oven to finish the dumplings. The stew is very similar to my recent Chicken Fricassee recipe, but the real magic happens when the dumpling batter is added and the whole pan is popped into the 450 oven. By the way, I made this for my wife and my Mom & Dad last night and they said the dumplings reminded them of Thanksgiving Stuffing, I agree. Awesome flavor with the addition of dried Oregano and raw minced onion.

From Nola Cuisine

I also used the Buckle recipe, but used Blueberries as they were the best fruit that I could find, his is made with fresh Peaches which aren’t in season right now. The Blueberry Buckle was dessert last night with good strong French Market Coffee, following the Chicken & Dumplings.

From Nola Cuisine

All in all, I haven’t been this inspired by a Louisiana cookbook since first reading the year 2000 publication of Commander’s Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and the late great Jamie Shannon.

I don’t recommend just anything, but I really think that this a great book, loaded with not only great recipes, but stories to go with each one. My copy is already getting a little worn, the page with the buckle recipe has some dried egg white on it, the back cover has a sticky substance from my kitchen counter. All signs of a good cookbook I guess.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!

Also take a look at my Bibliography of Creole & Cajun Cookbooks!