I LOVE cheese – I love wine – I love cute little restaurants. Imagine my delight when I first heard about Casellula, a cheese and wine café in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, who’s mission is to share their “passion for hand-made cheeses with as many people as possible.”
They serve over 40 cheeses and more than 100 different ‘compliments’ to pair with the cheeses. Everything from the typical honey and nut pairings to the inventive – spiced popcorn, pesto or pickled okra. On my first visit, I told the server that I couldn’t eat gluten and asked her not to bring any bread. She returned with our order of cheese and a plate of gluten-free rice crackers. This was a complete surprise; like my visit to Prune, this gluten-free ‘bread alternative’ had not yet hit the blogosphere. To add to my glee, they actually tasted good. Crispier and not as sweet as the rice krispy treats they resemble, they invited questions and looks of envy from nearby diners. On a recent visit, my gluten-eating friend Jed liked the crackers better than the bread (or at least he told me he did).
Unlike many wine bars, I was not limited to just a cheese plate to satisfy my appetite. There are plenty of gluten-free options on the menu – charcuterie, salads, mixed olives, goat cheese-stuffed pappadew peppers wrapped in prosciutto. While I can’t partake in their famed mac n cheese, I never felt deprived. I’ll just have to satisfy my cravings for gluten-free mac n cheese with a visit to S’mac. If Ninth ave is too far west for your plans, great cheese plates and gluten-free food offerings abound at Mario Batali’s Otto Pizzeria, Prune , Knife + Fork, or Gramercy Tavern’s more casual Front Room.
Be sure to double check that all of the pairings are gluten-free, one visit I had a close call with some soy sauce, but otherwise enjoy all of the cheesy goodness.
Casellula Cheese and Wine Café
Address: 401 West 52nd Street (at Ninth Ave)
NY, NY 10019
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