Sandwich perfection found on Government Street
In south Louisiana, the po-boy is the sandwich by which a restaurant, from white tablecloth to vinyl tablecloth, is judged.
It seems simple. Bread, lettuce, tomato, mayo, protein, right? But it’s not. The bread has to be the right bread, the lettuce the right amount, the mayo applied properly, and so on.
Rocco’s PoBoys & Grill hits all the high points. The bread is the right bread, perfect proportions of crusty and chewy and slathered with a thin layer of mayo to keep it from getting soggy, with just enough lettuce, tomato and pickle to provide a cool foil for warm roast beef smothered in gravy ($6.50), crispy fried shrimp or oysters ($8.25 and $8.50, respectively) or hot Italian sausage ($6.50).
The roast beef, in particular, was the right kind of roast beef. Chunks of someone’s Sunday roast — not limp slices of deli roast beef — adorned the sandwich, along with a messy helping of oniony gravy. Get extra napkins, or maybe bring a clean shirt.
The muffuletta, another south Louisiana sandwich with a devoted following, also sported the right kind of bread, soft with a liberal coating of sesame seeds. It was easy to bite through, always a consideration with a large sandwich, but the meat (ham, mortadella and a little salami) was unevenly distributed. There was plenty of olive mix, and though some bites found a meat layer about a third of an inch thick while other bites yielded three times that, all of the bites were satisfying.
The muffuletta comes in traditional half ($8) or whole ($15), and in seafood — pick two, shrimp, catfish or oysters (half, $10; whole $18; with oysters, add $1) or all three (add $3.50) — with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, provolone and olive salad.
The sides were typical, particularly the fries, which, combined with a drink, can make a po-boy a combo meal for $2.50. The cup of gumbo, ordered on a cool day, was the perfect side for the fried oyster po-boy, with hunks of chicken and good, spicy smoked sausage floating in a thick stew.
The atmosphere of the latest location for Rocco’s — in the old Opie’s Cafe on Government near South Foster — is casual and relaxed, and both in-house and pick-up orders were prompt. A great choice for a weekday lunch.