Revisiting Muffuletta

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Each month, in our Restaurants Revisited conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers revisit an “old favorite” restaurant and assess how it’s faring.

Joy: I have so much nostalgia for this restaurant and the location. It’s just an idyllic little part of St. Paul with a gorgeous patio.

Jason: Muffaletta is so adorable inside, it’s hard to fathom that it’s Phil Roberts’s first restaurant. Not sure how Muffaletta led to Manny’s and Chino Latino.

Joy: It’s its own thing: a small, slightly fancy bistro with quiet booths and an intimate privacy to most of the tables. What I love about it is also what could use some improvement: This place is aging.

Jason: The bread basket and garlic dip before the meal was a big hit with my kids who were STARVING (as per usual). And I loved the braised duck with olives and leeks on toast. A truly excellent appetizer. But the food here is uneven.

Joy: In the current burger-manic climate, the dry, overcooked one I received was disappointing. It would not take much to make it better.

Jason: A bad burger is a rarity these days! I hate to say I didn’t like the muffuletta sandwich at Muffuletta, but the oil from the olive relish soaked through the bread—messy!

Joy: Our server was lovely, but we had to track her down with every request. Despite a nearly empty room, she kept disappearing. 

Jason: I liked the vibe: We brought our kids, made conversation with the people sitting next to us, saw friends arrive. Sitting at the window felt very comfortable.

Joy: But it was not encouraging to see a cook open a jar, sniff it, and make the “is this still okay?” face that I pull in front of my home fridge.

Jason: Joy, you hated everything! 

Joy: No, I didn’t —I just didn’t really like…most of what I ate. Though the calamari and duck fat–soaked popcorn were delicious!

Jason: Also, the key lime tart with whipped cream and lime curd is a thing of beauty! Tart and sweet, creamy and crunchy.

Joy: I hope Parasole gives this restaurant the attention it deserves. It’s a beautiful part of our Twin Cities history and reminds me of the girl at the back of the gym during spring formal: Give her just a little attention and watch her bloom.

Muffuletta Quick Tips:

Good For Groups: The private wine room holds 30

Best Deal: At lunch, a duo of soup, salad, or half-sandwich costs $11

Outdoor Seats? One of St. Paul’s prettiest patios

Muffuletta, 2260 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-9116,