I have a theory that in this day and age, food dishes are no longer regional. That you can get a solid replica of a local signature in other parts of the country. It i America, damn it! For example, I may not be in Philadelphia but I can certainly find a great Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich locally. For me, the idea that you can’t sounds absurd. Many people that speak about this believe the contrary. Why it was just last week that I had to explain to someone from New Jersey that Taylor Ham can be found at my local grocery store.
With that in mind, I am going to make this summer’s quest to find the perfect substitute for the New Orleans staple, The Muffuletta locally. I will be blogging the progress of this quest as there are developments. I would like to make one thing clear before I begin with the first post, my feelings on each deli’s Muffuletta sandwich is not a reflection on my overall experience at the establishment. I will not be reviewing their service, decor, drink menu’s or other food items. This is strictly about the Muffuletta sandwich being found in the Tampa Bay Area between today and Labor Day. Once the first day of Autumn comes, I will be on a new quest “In Search For…” Now on to the quest.
The first stop “In Search For…Muffuletta” was The Sandwich On Main in Safety Harbor. The drive was about 30 minutes away for us, not terrible. As you drive up Main Street as you enter Safety Harbor, it looks like the perfect small town. Plenty of places to have lunch and then walk it off window shopping. The shop itself is adorable. Decorated nicely with some metal mechanical parts inside and out. They had a great selection of craft beers and flavored sodas. I opted for my favorite, Root Beer, which was served to ice cold perfection.
Their version of the Muffuletta is called “The Muffulittle,” since it is more than half the size of the traditional sandwich. That was ok since most of us either share or take home three quarters of the sandwich anyway. It was warmed from being pressed, which was ok too. It had warmed mayonnaise, which was different for me but it was ok as well.
Overall, I wasn’t ga-ga over it. If the sandwich was called something else, maybe I would have loved it but I don’t think so. It only made me miss Central Grocery even more. I am not sure what they could do to make it more like the New Orleans special. The meat and cheeses were quality, the olive spread was tasty, the warm bread was nice too. For me, it was just missing that “IT” factor. I cannot explain any better than that, sadly. I would happily return to this spot for lunch too, their menu is loaded with great options.
For now, the quest continues….