If you don't know the glories of a proper, New Orleans-style muffuletta, you will be able to experience this distinct pleasure soon, as Sandy's gets set to open at 1457 Haight Street on April 20.
The muffuletta came to New Orleans by way of Italy, and its origins are traced to Italian delicatessen Central Grocery Co., circa 1906. Owner Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant, may have taken his inspiration from similar sandwiches elsewhere, but the muffuletta was born as a sandwich of layered Italian meats — mortadella, capicola, soppressata — provolone cheese, and olive salad, which is essentially a vinegary mixture of chopped olives and giardiniera. Sandy's also put's Duke's mayo (from NoLa) on the muffuletta, which is how some spots do it, but not all.
The other secret is the bread, a round, almost focaccia-esque variety with sesame seeds known as muffuletta loaf, with sandwiches made large-scale, picnic style, and typically sold in wedges.
Getting all these elements right is key, and such alchemy has been hard to come by in the Bay Area until Sandy's came along.
Sandy's has been around in SF for two years now, as a pop-up, and it's the labor of love of New Orleans native Peterson Harter, a former chef at The Progress. Sandy's made appearances at a few locations, and popped up as a stand at Outside Lands last summer where I first tried it — and, having had great muffulettas in New Orleans, I can attest that these are the real deal, and extremely crave-worthy.
As Harter tells Eater this week, he chose the Upper Haight to open his shop because "It’s like New Orleans, it just has that energy to it... It has that funkiness that I really like, and I can’t imagine this being in any other neighborhood now."
The sandwich shop is opening without a liquor license, and with a limited menu of just muffulettas — regular and vegetarian, featuring maitake mushroom — available by the quarter- or eighth-round wedge. Also, there will be some excellent chocolate chip cookies.
Harter says the menu will slowly expand over time to include coleslaw and pickled-egg salad, along with a pickled-egg salad sando that was previously featured at the pop-up. He expects to offer specials like a jumbo lump blue crab roll, and a tomato sandwich when tomato season comes along, as well as a pimento cheese sandwich and one featuring half pickled-egg salad and half pimento cheese spread. For the keto-conscious or gluten intolerant, he's planning to offer muffuletta bowls as well.
Harter is also going to keep things NoLa by playing radio station WWOZ in the shop, and the place is decked out with various family and Mardi Gras memorabilia, including a big papier mache flower that came off a Mardi Gras float.
Look for Sandy's to be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., to start, Wednesday to Sunday.