Muffuletta celebrates 35 years
Last night marked a big anniversary for Muffuletta, Parasole Group's very first restaurant, as it celebrated an impressive 35 years in operation. Founders Phil Roberts and Peter Mihajlov, still regulars at the cafe, dropped by to eat, mingle, and reminisce about their first year in business, when diners went wild for quiche Lorraine and chicken salad in a hollowed-out pineapple. Their tagline? "Just Different Enough," and for 1977 it was.
Well, the slogan remains the same, but in 2012 it means that the menu is quite a bit more adventurous. Before leaving to open the excellent Strip Club Meat and Fish in St. Paul, chef J.D. Fratzke spent several years in Muffuletta's kitchen, introducing north African flavors, wild boar sausage, and sophisticated twists on French classics. He also stressed the importance of using local meat and produce -- something that was not entirely new to the Twin Cities restaurant scene but did take Muffuletta in a new, more modern direction.
Now under the guidance of chef Jason Schellin, named one of Minnesota Monthly's Hot Young Chefs of 2012, the restaurant continues to thrive and evolve, adding an affordable three-course Sunday supper, an addictive crab cake BLT, and delicately flavored sheep's milk yogurt cheesecake. If you missed the party last night in St. Paul's quaint St. Anthony Park neighborhood, you'll be glad to know Schellin plans to keep the celebration going all month long. He'll be offering weekly specials featuring some of Muffuletta's greatest hits from the past 35 years, including the duck l'orange, bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin, spinach salad with bacon and hard-cooked egg, and an ahi tuna sandwich with soy-chili glaze.
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