I went to college in Wisconsin. Sure, I got a great education, but I learned something even more valuable outside of the classroom.
Cheese is awesome.
I always knew that, but the Madison farmer’s market took my love to an entirely new level. It takes a lot to impress me on the cheese front after my four years in the dairy state.
Casellula blew my mind.
Known as a cheese and wine bar, in that order, their selection far surpasses that of many restaurants I have seen in the city. Over 60 variations of cheese, from around the world, take up the entire back side of the menu. Their cheese expert selects some of the finest cheeses based on your liking, making the experience absolutely wonderful.
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, I walked over to this little gem right after work. They do not take reservations, so I would definitely suggest heading here on the earlier side. I stood around for a bit, waiting for my friend to arrive, finally snagging one of the few up for grab seats at the window bar. When he finally got there, it was just in time to sit at one of the 8 tables (they have bar seating, as well).
We ordered some wine to start and then started to stare at the extensive cheese menu.
The waiter asked us about our likes and dislikes. Blue and stinky cheeses were immediately eliminated. I spoke of my love for goat and sheep’s milk cheese, and my friend mentioned his love for manchego. We ordered three meats as well to accompany the dishes.
The in house cheese connoisseur delivers the board to your table, sharing her expertise about each and every piece she carefully selected. The cheeses are accompanied by a unique side, there to enhance the flavor and complexity of the cheeses. There are two different types of bread, whole wheat and French, to create different textures with the cheeses.
We dug right in. I loved the creamier, lighter cheeses, while Zac went straight for huge chunks of the manchego-like cheese. Whether I selected the sweet lavender compliment, pesto, or blood orange marmalade, the combination elevated and built the flavors of each cheese. It really felt as if the cheeses were picked just for my wants and needs.
Of course, we needed the salty, meaty component to the cheese feast.
The meats came out shortly after, with a spicy mustard sauce in the shape of a flower. I created the perfect bites with the meat and cheese playing off each other so well. I personally loved the little sausage bites, with its light heat. With the rich cheeses, the combination, along with the crisp white wine, could not have been more perfect.
After devouring the meats and cheeses, we were still hungry. As we debated over the menu, the executive decision was made. We ordered two more cheeses, this time both harder and the Pig’s Ass sandwich. I know what you’re thinking; “Gross! Pig’s Ass! Who would eat that?” But in reality, it is actually pork shoulder two different ways.
The two additional cheeses were harder, one from Wisconsin the other from Connecticut.
The Wisconsin one obviously tasted the best. We had to have some school pride in this meal. Plus the accompaniment of caramelized popcorn completed the whole experience. It was delicious.
But then, oh then, the pig’s ass sandwich came out and my whole perspective on pork changed.
Ladies and Gentleman, this is the king of all sandwiches. The decadent, melt in your mouth pork’s shoulder mixed with the crunch and acidic pickles created the perfect bite. Plus, the sweet, slightly toasted ciabatta, cheese and chipotle aioli created this wild experience for my taste buds. Dipping the half of sandwich in the russian dressing gave a rich, creamy taste to the delicious sandwich. Each bite made me crave the sandwich more and more. Eating half created the perfect full. It was unbelievable.
By the end of the meal, I felt full, but so content. I had heard the chocolate cake was wonderful, but that’s for another time. The restaurant’s close proximity to work means this will be a new regular spot.
It’s the perfect location to bring a great book, have a glass of wine, some cheese and enjoy your own company. At the same time it’s great for a date or night out with the girls, the perfect little restaurant. Definitely make your way to this great, little Hell’s Kitchen spot because it is worth it.
Casellula – 501 W. 52nd Street – New York, NY
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: First Dates, Small Plates, Dining Solo, Drinks
Reservations: Not Available
Favorite Dishes: Cheese Platters, Pig’s Ass Sandwich