By Brooke Viggiano
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Joanna O'Leary
By Francisco Montes
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Katharine Shilcutt
The muffuletta sandwich is named after the bread, a dense sesame round native to Sicily. Most New Orleans muffuletta makers get their bread at Angelo Gendusa's bakery. At Central Grocery, the eight-inch round is sliced in half and topped with salami, mortadella and provolone and dressed with Central Grocery's secret-recipe olive salad.
There's a special way to eat a Central Grocery muffuletta. I once made the mistake of eating a freshly made muffuletta in the back of Central Grocery. The bread was tough and my forearms were soon coated in olive oil. The sandwich tastes best if you allow a couple of hours for the oil to soak into the chewy bread.
12344 Barker Cypress Road
Cypress, TX 77429
Roast beef poor boy (half): $9.75
Gumbo (cup): $5
Shrimp bisque: $5.95
Seafood court bouillon: $13.95
Lunch special: $10
My own technique is to buy the sandwiches, stick them in a cooler with some cold packs and start driving back to Houston. I flip them over in Lake Charles so the oil soaks into both sides of the bread. Then we eat them when we get home. Preferably while we watch a football game.
There is an alternate recipe in which the muffuletta is heated until the cheese melts and the bread gets crunchy. There is usually less olive salad on this style of sandwich; otherwise, the cheese won't hold the top and bottom bun together. This is the style of muffuletta served at Jason's Deli and Mama's Cajun Cuisine. My lunchmates think this muffuletta is brilliant. That's because they don't love olives. I manage to choke it down. But I remain a Central Grocery muffuletta enthusiast.
The muffuletta is also available on the quarter sandwich, fries and soup lunch deal. This time I get my quarter sandwich with the crab bisque. It tastes just like the slightly sweet shrimp bisque, only it contains lots of lump crabmeat instead of shrimp.
One of my tablemates orders red beans and rice. I very seldom encounter red beans and rice in a restaurant that are worth ordering. Mama's imports Camellia red kidney beans from New Orleans and cooks them down with ham and spices until the beans become a sort of spicy soup. They are the best red beans I've had in a restaurant in a long time.
The stained concrete floors, bare tables and sports-bar decorations that seemed so cheerful at lunch are kind of depressing in the evening, especially since we are the only customers. And while the fast-casual format, with serve-yourself drinks and silverware, was expedient for lunch, it doesn't make for much of a fine dining atmosphere.
When I tell my tablemates that I like Mama's for lunch better than for dinner, my error is pointed out. "When you walk into Parkway Tavern in New Orleans, you are going to eat poor boys," a Louisiana native points out. The time of the day doesn't make any difference.
Mama's Cajun Cuisine is a great place to go for a poor boy, a bowl of bisque, or red beans and rice — at any time of the day or night. And the roast beef poor boy is among the best you'll ever eat.