Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Casellula: Big, rich flavor on tiny plates

I hadn't seen JH in years, and when he contacted me randomly through this very blog, it was nothing less than appropriate for us to meet again over a delicious meal. Of course, the surprise of seeing one another after nearly seven or eight years was hijacked when I managed to run into him at a bar just days before our actual planned reunion.

This turn of events didn't lessen our desire to hang out though, and while bustling and a little bit loud, the cheese-oriented Casellula seemed like a fine place for a catch-up date. I was a little apprehensive as six months earlier I had tried to plan a small dinner for DL here, but Casellula had insisted on a rather large minimum, an upfront payment of half, and would only allow me to book a table at the ridiculously early hour of 5:30pm. I opted not to make a reservation then, as the whole process left sort of a bad taste in my mouth, but after reading more and more reviews about this restaurant, I wanted to try it anyway.
We started with a cheese plate, the selection of which we left up to the restaurant's cheese gurus. I don't remember the names of the specific cheeses anymore, but the condiments that came with them were memorable: a pesto of sorts (mint?), apple butter, and a thick, grainy mustard. Each matched perfectly with its corresponding cheese.
We decided to split an order of the goose breast reuben, pressed with fontina val d'aosta, a house slaw, and horseradish aioli, and the mac 'n' cheese, made with three cheeses: fol epi, comte, and chevre, as well as lardons and caramelized onions. At first I was dismayed at the size of the tiny skillet of bread-crumbed pasta, but as I dug in I realized how very rich the dish was. Both dishes were, actualy, but their small portion sizes kept them tasty instead of overwhelming.
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We were still hungry though, so JH ordered the stuffed peppadew peppers and an order of morcilla and roasted pepper crostini. The former turned out to be another dish that was surprisingly tiny, but the peppadews, stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and wrapped with speck, packed a wallop of flavor that far surpassed their diminutive size. As for the latter, it was good but nothing special, and as our stomachs had begun straining we left the last one on the plate.

Casellula isn't cheap (at $7.00 for the plate, each of those stuffed peppadews cost $1.40 each), but it's still a nice choice for a menu focused on making cheese shine. And they're generous with their wine, too: because they had asked us to switch to another table midway through the meal and we had ambiably scooted over, our server decided to keep on pouring even after our bottle was finished. With a bottle and a half of wine between the two of us and plenty of cheese in our bellies, JH and I definitely had a fine time.


  1. I wonder if this is where the girl from Required Reading on Serious Eats works.. she mentioned stuffed peppadews last time.

    Mmm, sounds good, I want some cheese now! :)

  2. Yvo: You know, I was thinking that too! Didn't she mention goose breast reubens in another entry?