Serious Eats describes the muffaletta as: "a world-class sandwich which hails from New Orleans, where it is often sold as an entire loaf of bread suitable for four people of healthy appetites to enjoy." I think I'm going to need a plane ticket to Louisiana.
If you've never had a muffaletta, here's a bit of background. It was brought to New Orleans by the Italian community and so it's packed with meat and spice. Not unlike an Italian sub, the muffaletta has layers of meat and cheeses which are paired with peppers, capers, olives, or anything with enough zest to offset the meat. And, because it's so versitile, any ingredient will work depending on the chef! But what really makes this sandwich is the bread.
It's almost impossible to find great muffaletta bread outside of New Orleans, but we can find you some pretty close options to compare to the real thing. What you're mainly looking for is a thick focaccia-type to soak up all the great flavors from the meat and cheese. (We've heard the longer it rests, the better it tastes!) We have an abundance of focaccia and ciabatta breads, ranging from large sheets to individual round sandwich roll sizes, from heroes to baguettes. One great option that has been featured at Beauty & Essex is the Ciabatta Sandwich Roll from Balthazar Bakery. The Chef at Beauty & Essex uses the ciabatta because it's thick and rustic, just like the bread used in New Orleans, but scaled down to satisfy one individual instead of 4. The pockets throughout the ciabatta help trap the flavor from the sandwich ingredients and also help the chewer not wear his jaws out. Is your mouth watering yet?
For a great muffaletta recipe, check out this post from seriouseats.com: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/09/dinner-tonight-muffaletta-sandwich.html
Photo from: http://www.nomenu.com/reviews/Mahonys.html