Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe is a place after my own heart. The first line on their website’s About page says, “We like cheese. We really like cheese. A lot.” What more do I need to know?
The whole point of Casellula is to share this love of cheese with the masses. They have around 40 cheeses from all all over world, which they categorize as either fresh, bloomy, washed, pressed/cooked, or blue. The real kicker, and my favorite part of the restaurant, is that when you order a cheese plate, you’re not getting just cheese and bread–you get a special accompaniment that is specifically chosen to go with that cheese. And don’t expect just different kinds of preserves picked for each one! It could be honey, curds, purees, pestos, candies…These guys are professionals.
Another great thing about Casellula is that while it’s billed as a wine and cheese place, which could very easily be stuffy or fancy, it’s quite casual and comfortable. You don’t have to worry about dressing up for a dinner here. The restaurant is small and they don’t take reservations, but my friends and I didn’t have trouble getting a table for an early dinner (although it did start getting packed by the time we left). It seemed like there was no actual kitchen in the space, just an area behind the bar where they were preparing food and had a dishwasher and a little fridge behind the cheese cabinet. You have to get creative to make New York City real estate work!
We decided to start with a meat plate as well as a cheese plate. We chose to get three meats (you can get one, three, or five) and let the staff decide which ones. They brought us a plate with chorizo, speck, and chistorras (from left to right in the photo) along with some spicy mustard and cornichons. The chistorras was our favorite of the three, surprisingly too because we had never heard of or had it before.
We were a bit overwhelmed with all the cheese options (all of them sound amazing!) so again, we let the staff have a free for all with making our cheese flight. Really, the staff is more than happy to decide for you or help you figure out what you should get depending on your preferences or wine choice. They suggested that for three people we should get three cheeses if we were eating it as an appetizer and going to order something else for a main dish. I wish I could remember the exact name of the cheeses we got, but I do know that we got a sheep’s milk cheese, a cow’s milk cheese, and a goat’s milk cheese. These were paired with honeycomb, celery root puree, and blueberry compote. The accompaniments were perfect for each cheese (ugh…that compote with the goat cheese…I die) and selections that would’ve never crossed my mind before. I mean honeycomb?! It was my first time eating actual pieces of it, and now I know that it’s great with cheese.
While I could’ve just kept ordering cheese plate after cheese plate until I got full–and I kind of wanted to do that just to see what other interesting pairings they would come up with–we also wanted to try one of Casellula’s dishes. Their menu has small plates like crostini and popcorn, medium plates like endive salad and steamed buns, and large plates like the famous Pig’s Ass Sandwich and shrimp tacos. My friend and I split a sandwich that had brisket, ham, and caramelized onions on a delicious baguette with some au jus on the side. So mouthwatering, so hearty. I thought the cheese itself would be the be-all and end-all, but this sandwich was quite superb itself.
If you’re looking for a place for a fun date night, I think Casellula would be a great pick. Eat some excellent cheese, have fun with the unique pairings, and share a bottle of wine…sounds like a perfect evening.
Three cheese plate, three meat plate, brisket and ham sandwich
401 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019