Jason's Deli Introduces a New Muffaletta

I am not afraid to admit that as far as chains go, I love Jason's Deli. It's a handy place to get a quick, cheap lunch that you won't immediately regret eating, plus it has one of the most convenient bathrooms in Rice Village. When I was younger, a perfect day was going to the zoo, riding the train in Hermann Park, and then heading to Jason's for a 99 cent turkey mini-muffaletta kid's meal. Now that I'm grown up and the 99 cent deal is long gone, I still partake in an occasional stop by Jason's to get my muffaletta fix. But I was skeptical when I arrived one day recently to find that they had added a new muffaletta to the menu: the Veggaletta.

Yes, the name is cheesy, and luckily so is the sandwich. They start with a hunk of that crunchy, sesame seed-studded muffaletta bread that I am obscenely fond of. Next they top it with a big dose of veggies -- good ones, too, including big chunks of grilled Portobello mushrooms, freshly torn organic spinach, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers strips and purple onion slivers. Then they add a big heap of the family-recipe muffaletta olive mix and smother the whole thing in melted provolone cheese.

Although I frequently abstain from meat, I am generally not a big fan of vegetable sandwiches. This one was surprisingly satisfying. The Portobello pieces were perfectly grilled and not at all soggy, adding a heartiness to the sandwich that elevated it above most veggie-wiches. The onions were nearly caramelized and lent their sweetness to the complexity of flavors, while the crunch of the bell pepper strips harmonized with the toastiness of the bread. The slightly melted cheese oozed all over everything and worked as a delicious glue to hold the sandwich together. My favorite part of a Jason's muffaletta, though, is the olive mix, and this one had enough to not disappoint.

For $6.99, you can a quarter Veggaletta with chips and fruit, which will leave you full but still feeling good about yourself.

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Geri Maria Harris