Leoncia?s Serves Up Tasty Muffuletta (Opinion)

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Leoncia’s New Orleans Restaurant

1000 Grand Ave.

Fort Smith

479-783-6500

Not every town is fortunate enough to have its own famous sandwich. But most burgs have some sort of pale approximation of a more notable city’s native dish.

If you’ve ever known and loved the real Philly cheese steak, then it’s likely you’ve been seriously let down by the pretenders and wannabes outside the city of brotherly love. What makes the seemingly basic sandwich so hard to replicate is a mystery.

Ditto with the muffuletta, the enormous meat, cheese and olive salad sandwich made famous by Central Grocery in New Orleans. Finding a place that serves a good muffuletta outside the Big Easy had seemed for many years to be a quixotic culinary quest.

But then we went to Leoncia’s New Orleans Restaurant.

Bright, Mardi Gras-themed décor and neon beer signs belie the high quality of the food on offer. The muffuletta, (available in quarter, half and whole increments – testimony to its massive size), while not quite up to Central Grocery standards, was very, very close.

The price was right ($4 for a quarter, $7.50 for half and $12 for a whole), and the ingredients were spot on. The lunch sandwich special, with a quarter portion of a muffuletta, spicy waffle-cut fries and a drink was very reasonable at $6. Other sandwich options include oyster, roast beef, fried shrimp rémoulade and beer BBQ brisket.

Despite the restaurant being pretty full, the noise level was never intrusive. The only issue that might be a concern for large groups would be the fairly limited parking.

Other dishes might take a bit longer, as the muffulettas are made each morning well before the lunch rush, and are also available for a quick lunch on the go.

The rest of the menu at Lenocia’s looks very promising, filled as it is with plenty more Louisiana cuisine. Prices on most of the options vary depending on whether you’re there for lunch or dinner.

Shrimp spaghetti bordelaise is $6 at lunch, but a presumably larger portion in the evening is $11. Pricier items include red snapper Rockefeller style ($14), the seafood platter ($13), and steak au poivre ($17).

While we didn’t indulge in dessert, the options (all $5) sound decadently delicious: bread pudding with white chocolate rum sauce, flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate sauce and a bird’s nest – jullianed sweet potatoes fried in a circular shape, filled with ice cream and topped with a butter cinnamon sauce.

Service was very friendly and incredibly fast. We walked in hungry at 11:49 and walked out full and satisfied at 12:18.

For the money, we think you’d be hard pressed to find better New Orleans cuisine in Arkansas.