Location: Sandy’s SF
Sandwich: The Muffuletta
I feel like I have to get something out in the open. It’s a character flaw that I’ve mostly kept secret from everyone except my closest friends, my mother, and a middle aged man from my laundromat who always talks about knowing top-level government officials or single-handedly getting crooked cops off the force (I felt like I had to reciprocate in the conversation). It’s this: I don’t really like olives. I pride myself on being a universally adventurous eater up for anything and everything. Salted preserved fish? Bring it on. Bitter alcohol shots often taken as a joke or punishment? Some of my favorites. But something about the distinct flavor of olives has always been a huge put off for me. It may come as a surprise that the next sandwich up is the olive-jammed muffuletta.
It seems like the muffuletta sandwich has gotten a ton of well-deserved love lately. The past few years I’ve seen riffs on the muffuletta popping up on sandwich menus from standard delis to specialty spots. Now, the muffuletta has long been a mainstay in New Orleans, an all time food destination, so it’s not surprising that it has begun spreading beyond the bayou. When I heard talk around the Underground Sandwich Network of a spot called Sandy’s with a legendary muffuletta, I knew I had to check it out.
The muffuletta is a distinct sandwich, one that is more clearly defined than other types of sandwiches you could find at your local deli. The bread is a muffuletta loaf and is non-negotiable. Large as a car wheel and finished with sesame on top, this bread is delicious but more importantly it is porous, perfect for soaking up excess olive oil from the olive tapenade-like slaw. Meats and cheese are necessary, but the type does not seem to be precisely specified.
Sandy’s Muff comes with mortadella, prosciutto, and soppressata which may be a nod to the Sicilian origin of the sandwich, but it is more likely that this is just an incredible combination of cured meats. Add a thick cut of provolone that perfectly sweats when toasted and you are on your way to bliss. That brings us to the olives: the underlying foundational dissuasion from my achieving muff nirvana. However, the olive spread at Sandy’s is next level. I tend to think olives overwhelm anything they hang out with, but Sandy’s spread is excellently balanced. I noticed the crunch of their house pickled carrot, the spicy cherry peppers, and the chorus of cauliflower, onion, capers and garlic just as much as the plethora of olives. It was tasty, it didn’t overwhelm, and it has just a little heat, adding perfectly to the meat and provolone in the sandwich. I’m not converted to team olive, but I love them in this sandwich.
Their website claims ‘the best sandwich in town’ and I gotta say they deliver. I was in sandwich heaven from first bite until last, but that is not all that Sandy’s can do. Chef Peterson also comes through with red beans and rice that are outta this world. He is not shy with the meat, as the beans are loaded with shredded pork and andouille sausage. The side is topped with a little white vinegar and the entire concoction is a perfect meal all on its own. I finished the entire sandwich and beans confection and felt like a content Bruce Bogtrotter, thankfully minus the audience (and Cookie… yeesh).
Unfortunately, Sandy’s has had a recent interruption in their sandwich flow. For reasons unknown, they had to move out of their spot in the back of Maison Corbeaux and currently don’t have a physical location. I know their going through a tough time, but whenever they can find another spot for muffulettas from, I’ll be one of the first in line to welcome them back.
You can support, too! They are currently raising some cash for their own storefront, and as of this writing, they are well on their way. Donate if you can, but definitely give them a follow on Instagram @sandys_sf and grab a muffuletta (and red beans and rice!) when they are back with it.