Anthony’s is a Baton Rouge institution, famous enough to inspire debates about whether its muffuletta (here called “muffuletta”) is better than those in New Orleans. We won’t enter this fray, but we will say that Anthony’s beats all others for variety, at least. There are several variations on the iconic sandwich.
Anthony’s Original Muffuletta is large, stacked, and hot from the oven. It is the warmest, meltiest version of the sandwich that we’ve had. It’s piled high with ham, salami, mortadella, and cappicolo. When oil from the meats combines with unusually gooey provolone, it creates a virtual cheese sauce that oozes out from each corner of the wedge. The oily mix is enhanced by a heaping portion of house olive relish, the definitive “muffoletta” spread. The combination is a powerful one, and quite salty. Every bite requires a long chew and some iced tea to balance the salinity. The bread crunches on top and gives easily as you bite through. It’s a hedonistic experience. The menu recommends two slices (a half) per person, but one is fine for us. More than overloaded on calories, we are exhausted from flavor.
For those that really just don’t want to push themselves that hard, the “muffoletta,” along with several Italian meat combos, is available as a sub. These aren’t traditional po’ boys. They come on pressed rolls, like a Cuban sandwich or an Italian panino, but they contain the same meat and cheeses. They aren’t as melty or stacked, but they just as delicious, and more sensible if you have afternoon plans. Lettuce replaces the olive spread, which is a more refreshing and balanced choice, though might make you miss the extravaganza of the full muffuletta. The Godfather sandwich is scalled back to just American prosciutto and Genoa salami, and it comes with bright green Louisiana sport peppers that are sliced razor-thin.
One slice of “muffoletta” is also perfectly fine because appetite must remain to savor pasta salad, which is the finest we’ve ever had. It’s a doozy of a bowl with at least a dozen ingredients, including turkey, salami, Romano cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and, of course, several varieties of olive. It’s all dressed with an oregano-heavy seasoning, but there is balsamic vinegarette on the side for those who like their pasta salad a tad wetter.
The deli is busy and hectic at times, but dining on the front porch is peaceful, even with cars zooming down Government Street. The staff are friendly and helpful. It’s like you’ve known them for years … but not so well that they will help you finish the inevitable leftovers.