Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe
Yes, I call myself The Caffeinated Day Tripper because I am a traveler who is addicted to coffee. Cheese and wine, however, slide in at a very close second. In fact, I briefly considered calling myself The Cheesy Wino Travel Blogger but it didn’t have that je ne sais quoi. Know what I mean? Image is everything. Speaking of images, I’m using photos from www.casellula.com because they do far more justice to the food, wine and decor than my cheesy (no pun intended) Instagram pics.
I drive into New York City about four times a year and checking out new restaurants always tops my to-do list. I’ve touched on Chelsea Market, Ginny’s Supper Club & Peking Duck House in several posts but never really felt the urge to write a proper restaurant review…until now. Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe. Write it down. Better yet, tattoo it on your arm. It’s THAT good. Caselulla offers an expansive and diverse wine menu: Sparkling, white, rosé, red, sweet, madeira and even Bellum “El Remate” which they consider to be “The Perfect Wine With Chocolate”. Yep, you heard that, right. Wine + chocolate. Can I get an amen? They also carry beer, mead, sherry, port and Gus Soda. But it is ALL about the cheeses at Casellula, folks.
“Our philosophy is simple: to share our passion for cheese with as many people as possible.To that end, we have around 40 cheeses from all over the world on our list every day. The choices span five broad categories: fresh, bloomy, washed, pressed/cooked, and blue, while the flavor profiles range from the familiar to the obscure, from mild to strong, from milky to stinky, and from nutty to sharp.”—www.casellula.com
So what makes Casellula worthy of my very first restaurant review? One word: Pairings. Beautifully plated pairings.
The Caffeinated Husband and I had just seen Les Miserables and had all the time in the world to savor our meal. We ordered a bottle of 2013 Ravines Dry Riesling out of the Finger Lakes region of New York ($45). We then chose three cheeses, with the assistance of our very friendly server:
- Wildspitz raw goat & cow cheese out of Lucerne, Switzerland. Described as a smooth, savory cheese with floral notes. This was paired with celery root puree and fried onion strings. This was our least favorite of these delicious pairings only because, in our opinion, the pureed celery root was a bit overpowering for the cheese. Delicious but just a touch too much.
- Robiola di Bufala from Piedmont, Italy. A pasteurized water buffalo cheese (just, trust me, it’s wonderful!) that is described as rich, creamy and slightly gamey. It was paired with an incredible sweet & sour pepper jelly with a tangerine crisp sprinkled with fennel seeds. I could literally drink this pepper jelly. By the keg. It is a perfect accompaniment to this cheese.
- Tomme de Ma Grand-Mere Adrienne pasteurized goat cheese from Poitou-Chantares, France. Described as velvety and smooth, it was paired with cherries in a balsamic reduction. This was our favorite pairing. (But that pepper jelly is the bomb.)
Look, given my way, I could happily exist on cheese alone. The lactose gods, however, dictate that I knock off at three cheeses and order an entree. They are unjust and pitiless gods who punish me with stomach distress if I don’t obey their mandate. (Bullies.)
So…entree it was! I’d heard a lot about Casellula’s Pig’s Ass sandwich.Granted, it’s not the most delectable sounding name for a sandwich but it is an attention grabber.
The Pig’s Ass is a creation of pig’s patootie (or shoulder?)/ 5-Spoke Tumbleweed cheese ( a marriage between Cantal Fermier and aged Cheddar)/ fol epi cow’s milk cheese (take THAT lactose gods!) from the Loire Valley of France/ B&B pickles and chipotle aioli, the Pig’s Ass is Casellula’s take on a cuban sandwich. I’ll be honest…I wasn’t wowed. The pork was perfectly cooked and the bread was delightfully crispy but, for me, cubans are all about flavor. Despite the chipotle aioli, the sandwich was a bit bland. The chipotle aioli was even a bit bland. Maybe it was a one off? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because everything else was fantastic.
What wasn’t bland was the rich chocolate cake, covered in luscious hand-poured cream by your server. Let’s just stop a moment and take in this photo, shall we? Go ahead and click on it to see it in a larger size, if you’d like. I’ll wait…
The ultimate in food porn, right? For the love of all that is holy, order this cake! It will be as good for you as it was for us.
*lights up cigarette*
Just kidding, kids. Smoking is bad for you.
*eats cake with cream poured on it*
My one and only issue with Casellula is the noise level. I’d describe it as a dull roar, peppered by the occasional machine gun round of overzealous laughter from a patron who really enjoys their wine (and attention). Then again, Casellula is tiny and wine-drinking New Yorkers can be loud.
So, all in all- great wine, superb cheese, decent food, incredible dessert, friendly service and excellent company. I’d call that a success. I’ll definitely go back.
You can find Casellula at 401 West 52nd Street. They are open 7 days a week – 5pm to 2am (excluding holidays). They do not take reservations so plan to get there at five, grab a table and enjoy! www.casellula.com
C & E at 50th St. & 8th Ave. 1 at 50th & Broadway R & W at 49th St. & 7th Ave.
Have you been to Casellula? Have a different favorite wine & cheese cafe/bar in NYC? We’d love to hear your opinions and comments. Leave them in the comment section below. Don’t forget to follow the blog to keep up on all latest posts. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Google + and Pinterest. Happy travels!