Day Ten • 12 Tastes of Brooklyn
WITH SO MANY ARTISANAL FOOD MAKERS in Brooklyn, it’s good to also find some wonderful small grocery stores where you can buy their small-batch products. These are the anti-supermarket—you really want to call them shops because they often conjure up the feeling of a village shop where customers and proprietor greet each other by name. The selections in these diminutive stores are carefully chosen (dare I say curated?) from producers that the proprietors often know personally. They’ve tasted the cheese, or the salumi, or the sauces or pickles and they like them! And they want you to have them (for a price). I was on the hunt, recently, for salumi and cheeses and meze for a holiday gathering.
I’d already bagged my baba ganoush at Sahadi’s and some soppressata and Italian cheese from D. Coluccio & Sons (above), a store and importing/wholesale business that’s been around for half a century. (Like Sahadi’s, it has been an anchor in its neighborhood bringing hard-to-find artisanal and specialty products to a discriminating audience.) Now I’m ready to explore some of the small grocers.
Beth Lewand and Chris Gray opened Eastern District two years ago to bring their favorite beers and cheeses to Greenpoint. The shelves are stocked with plenty of local products, but the store sources farther afield too. The cheese selection will keep you there for half an hour trying to decide.
Salumi comes from such respected producers as Olympic Provisions in Seattle, Creminelli in Salt Lake City and Charlito’s Cocina in Queens. I sampled Charlito’s salumi earlier this summer at Smorgasburg. Charlito (Charles Samuel Wekselbaum), who was raised in a Cuban-American household, draws on the curing traditions of Spain and uses 100% pasture-raised heritage breed pork. (Check out his fig salumi, too.) Each week, there’s a different cheese/beer pairing at Eastern District, with rotating beers on tap (and growlers to take some home).
When you open the door of Bedford Cheese Shop, the pungent aromas of cheese hit you. This is a good thing. The cheese descriptions are witty, the staff helpful (they’ll always offer tastes). Salumi comes from small-batch producers.
The whole shop is inviting, with shelves stocked with the best of Brooklyn and beyond. At a second branch on Irving Place in Manhattan, Bedford Cheese now offers classes. Next up, on December 19: whiskey styles and their cheese counterparts.
A.L.C. Italian Grocery is a gem of a store in Bay Ridge that has been open less than two months. Owner Louis Coluccio grew up in the specialty food business (he is one of the sons in D. Coluccio & Sons). Now, for his own store, he aims to combine “the best of Italian products and the best of local products,” he told us when we visited last week.
The selection is meticulous and beautifully displayed. You’ll find Parmacotto Salumeria Rosi and smoked pancetta from Leoncini (both Italian) as well as Brooklyn Cured and Mosefund Farm meats.
Tastings happen often, sometimes twice a week; today was prosciutto—“Genuine prosciutto is made of only four ingredients: hand-selected legs of premier pigs, salt, air and skill.” A.L.C. Grocery is also working on some evening classes at the shop with select producers, which they hope to announce in early January.
1053 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
D. Coluccio & Sons, Inc.
1214 60th Street, Borough Park
Bedford Cheese Shop
229 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
A.L.C. Italian Grocery
8613 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge
Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is American Typewriter, by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan, ITC, 1974.