Cannatella’s opened in 1923 in Melville, Louisana. In the near-century since, the town has swelled to 2,000 residents and shrunk to 1,000 again. Beloved butcher Canntella’s stuck it out, now having expanded to Baton Rouge. Refrigerators and cases are lined with pasta sauces, tasso, stuffed chickens and all kinds of sausages. Grocery shelves boast the olive spread that dresses Cannatella’s famous muffuletta.
We’re big fans of boudin, which is seriously good in this place. It doesn’t have too much liver funk; the rice is firm but not crunchy. Spices come through but don’t distract. It’s a great link overall.
A small selection of hot sandwiches is available only for two hours during midday, but it’s worth trying to make it for the tender, herby porchetta on a soft ciabatta roll. The juicy meat is glued to the bread with a grilled cheese sandwich’s worth of provolone, spinach, and a handful of pepperoncini. It’s an excellent sandwich, and one that doesn’t taste too heavy or oily in spite of the generous load of meat and cheese.
But what of the famous muffuletta? It’s one of the best on the road! While not overly dressed or piled high, it delivers a strong salty, meaty kick from salami, mortadella, smoked ham, provolone, and Swiss. It’s pressed to order, which makes the bread nice and crunchy. Smoked ham gives it more of a country taste than the original Central Grocery version in New Orleans. The dressing is more a compliment than a salad, which allows the muffuletta to eat neatly, like a slice of pizza. A wedge of this Italian classic paired with refreshing pasta salad makes a fresh, thrifty lunch.
A small matter, but worth noting: pickled peppers that come with the muffuletta are unusually good, sporting a dash of oil that balances the sharp vinegar.