The dish: New Orleans-style Muffuletta ($9.25)
You can satisfy a hankering for a muffuletta sandwich at Larry's 1332, a small, recently opened shop on Sulphur Spring Road in Arbutus, but not if the hankering demands the sandwich be made with a muffuletta round.
Larry's uses Italian bread. It's fresh and spongy with a yeasty bite: A fine loaf in keeping with muffuletta origins — but it might not be the sandwich you had in mind. If you can make it over the bread hump, you're in for a nice ride.
Larry's kitchen cleaves to the classic ingredients, both in the meats and cheese layers and in the all-important olive spread.
A note about that olive spread — it was maybe a little over the top. This rendition didn't negate the meats, but the spread came on strong with every bite. You'll wonder where the martini is. It's a nice spread, though. A salad of minced green olives and carrots, Larry's layers it on the bread and lays down a bit amid the meat. If you fancy a robust olive spread, you'll warm to Larry's muffuletta.
The meats comported themselves with the savory extravagance you'd expect. The Genoa salami brought its rich buttery character, the capicola added a whisper of smokiness. The mortadella smoothed things out with its distinctive pork notes: Really good baloney, if you're not familiar with mortadella. And yes, I had to pull pieces from the sandwich to detect the different tones in the meats. Taken together, they're a great cured meat trio — like you'd find in a good Italian cold cut sandwich (Larry's version is called Our Hero). Provolone cheese is another classic ingredient and helps balance the medley. Along with the bread, it also helps cushion the impact of the aggressive olive salad.
For a small location, the menu lists a robust selection of sandwiches, appetizers, salads and sides, along with a potato, egg sandwich and soup of the day.
The dining area is a plain, modestly appointed rectangular space that has housed a tea room or two and looks like it might be quite the echo chamber. In fact, voices didn't carry all that distinctly from one end of the room to the other, a bummer for restaurant eavesdroppers.
Larry's is one of those places you want to see survive, and might worry that its location works against it. It's just quirky enough to seem out of place in suburban Arbutus, which is salted with pizza and sub chains. Or Larry's may be the vanguard of a trend this area wants and can benefit from.
Where: 1332 Sulphur Spring Road, Arbutus
Contact: 443-304-2841, larrys1332.com
Lunch hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; carry-out orders accepted until 5 p.m. if you call ahead of time.
Lunch entrees: $8.50-$10.50