Taste 08.15.19

The Meatery >> Jason Balestrieri

Who puts mayonnaise on a muffaletta? Or mozzarella, for that matter? And where’s the mortadella?

“Ours is a loose interpretation,” explains Chef Jason Balestrieri of The Meatery. They use a different bread, add fennel pollen to the relish and pretty much ignore the rules governing New Orleans’ fabled sandwich – except for the one that says the muffaletta should play like Mardi Gras on the palate.

There’s a haze from the house-smoked ham, a twang of salami and a richness from the mozzarella – and yes, there’s a layer of provolone, so they didn’t break every tradition. More importantly, there’s all the color and wanton earthiness of the olive relish.

Each bite can bite can be tangy, sweet or spicy. The relish is a carnival of roughly chopped olives, pickled vegetables, garlic, capers and sweet cherry peppers doused in olive oil and vinegar. Yet somehow through this din, the smoky, mineralic savor of the meat rises and lingers.

Maybe the chefs of New Orleans should play by The Meatery’s rules. It’s a sandwich worthy of its own classic status.

THE MEATERY, 1534 Fremont Blvd., Seaside. 656-8810, themeatery.us

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