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Best cheese store/specialty foods

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What are your thoughts on the best cheese store/specialty foods in Manhattan?

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  1. Murray's Cheese Shop for cheese, it is really great and they have good wine and cheese tasting classes too!

    1. Di Palo's has a special place in my heart, but I also shop at Murrays, and Ideal Cheese on occasion.

      1. Grace's Marketplace is consistently excellent thru all departments. So are the Eli's (the one on Third Ave and the one on East 90-something) altho the prices are vertigo-inducing. Kalustyan's is the go-to spot for mid-Eastern, far-eastern & most ethnic foods.

        The Dean & Deluca uptown on Madison and 85th could be better IMO. Agata & Valentina has lots of fans but I think it, too, could be better.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fauchon

          I don't think the cheese at Eli's is great though - all pre-wrapped as I recall. D&D on Madision could definitely be better - produce often lousy and overpriced ... not at big fan of A&V either. I don't know if Citarella is considered a specialty store, but I do a lot of grocery shopping there.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I actually prefer the cheese at Grace's...I totally forgot Cit's...I shop there a lot, too...It's good but not IMO tip-top...I think the prepared food is really unappetizing & something about it doesn't seem as clean as it could be.

            1. re: fauchon

              Agreed ... I guess I just so rarely buy prepared food that it nevers enter into my evaluation ... I don't even notice it .... I do love the produce at Eli's ... if wishes were horses, etc. I'd buy all my produce there.

        2. Odd part of town, but you should all go to Todaro Brothers on 2nd Ave and 30th. The Todaro Delight is a completely irresistable combo of cheese. Great with crackers, proscuitto or melted on a burger. They have authentic italian goods - even flour which is great for homemade breads/pizzas. Grandma's kitchen without having to hit little italy.

          1. Ideal Cheese, First (51-52) has terrific selection, well informed salespersons. Unusual offerings from small producers. (But no fresh ricotta - what's with that?)

            1. I'd have to go with the Soho Dean & Deluca

              1. I've gotten better Comte' cheese at K's, 1st Av. between 18th and 19th, than anywhere else in New York. Better than Murray's, for example. It's a small shop but the proprietress gives terrific service and their product is very good.

                1. Ideal Cheese in Manhattan, International Taste on 7th Ave and Garfield in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

                  1. Zabar's cheeses are always in good condition, and the servers know the stock. They always have some great selections from Neal's Yard. Go halfway down the counter, just to the right of the column, to find them. The Neal's Yard Colston Basset Stilton is pure heaven with a glass of port. At the other end of the scale, they often have a $1.00 special on Boursin. They also have excellent ficelles to go with the cheese.

                    Calabria Pork Store on Arthur Avenue has great salumi, particularly the amazing coppa.

                    Di Palo, of course. I wait out the long line for their great Parmigiano-Reggiano and their even greater Pecorino Romano. Ask for culatello, which is what prosciutto aspires to be.

                    1. I would have to go with Artisanal for the cheese. I really appreciate how they handle the cheese. No plastic wrap. Cheese is a living thing. It is not meant to be wrapped in plastic. That's the reason why I don't like Murrays -- they wrap their cheese in plastic. Plus, Artisanal is really generous with samples.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Actually at Murrays they only wrap a few cheeses in plastic. The ones that they sell the most I suppose. However, you can almost always just ask them to cut you a fresh one and they will always wrap them in wax paper. I go there a few times a week. Zabar's cheeses are indeed priced lower than many others and they are usually in fine condition. Because of this, I see no point in going to Fairway. I go there often too. Grace's marketplace does not have a big selection and they don't seem as fresh often times, but they are quite inexpensive. Citarella's selection is a little small as well, but the quality is generally good and one of the cheapest. D & D, well, quality varies greatly, somewhat pricy although not that much more than other fine cheese stores, fairly good selection. Eli's cheese department is probably my least favorite because the selection is not that good, very pricy, uneven quality, I just see no point.

                      2. There's Bierkraft in park slope and Fairway has a rather extensive selection...

                        1. I kind of love East Village Cheese Shop in terms of bang for the buck...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: haleyjen

                            I agree

                          2. With you on East Village Cheese... Great party cheese!

                            1. I gotta give another shout out to Di Palo's. If you're looking for Italian cheeses, I don't think anyone's got better selection with more knowledgeable and friendly staff. The lines are a downside, but sometimes they give you a sample while you wait!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: studog

                                Funnily enough, I think the long lines can be almost charming. Everyone in line is a Chowhound, and eventually I always strike up a conversation with the people around me. It can be lots of fun. Plus yes, the staff is friendly and they know their product, and want very much for you to know it too.

                                1. re: ballulah

                                  Yes - I actually enjoy the line - as long as it's not *too* long.

                              2. The Dean and Deluca on E. 85th and Madison is pretty good as well, for cheese that is. The guy behind the counter (tall white guy, late 40's/early 50's, thick, round black framed glasses) turned me on to some wonderful blues and a terrific smoked gouda that isn't the processed junk you find in some of the other high end stores.

                                1. Despana Brand, Center and Broome Streets

                                  1. Absolutely Murray's

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jinet12

                                      I was in Murray's on Bleecker yesterday and as always, was knocked out not just by the selection (and the quality of care), but by the friendly, well-informed counterfolk, who really know their cheeses, make solid recommendations, and are quick to cut you a sample of anything you wish to taste. I do my regular shopping at Harlem Fairway, and their cheese selection is better than decent (love their fresh pot cheese, btw) - but they don't compare to Murray's.

                                    2. i live in Bk so i normally go to bierkraft in pslope or stinky's which is a lot closer to me. neither have an AMAZING selection, tho both have quality choices for sure. stinky's employees are probably a bit more knowledgeable but both store give plenty of tastes. i am very interested in checking out Redhook fairway tho since i have heard the NYC fairways are apparently solid with the cheeses. Is Murray's in the village really worth the trip from south bk to NYC?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ben61820

                                        I live in the Slope and make regular trips to Fairway for my regular shopping in my zipcar (hurrah -- just quit the co-op!). Their cheese selection is great (particularly the raw milk manchego in olive oil). However, one of the things that brings me the most pleasure in life is hitting Murrays when I am doing cheese right -- the people there are just awesome, and I always find something new. It's one of those places that makes me so glad I live in NYC (and believe me, the list is dwindling). I never leave there without a smile on my face . . .

                                      2. I just came back from Fairway in Red Hook. I bought some excellent tasting Garlic and Herb Goat Jack Cheese and D'Avignon Blue. I tried some Blue Gouda but it was much too strong for my taste. Fairway's cheese selection (at least the Brooklyn one) is probably the best thing they have going for them. You should try International Taste on 150 7th Ave. by Garfield in Park Slope. They have one of the best cheese selections in all of The City in my opinion. They make a great fig layered Goat as well as Garlic and Herb Goat. They're a tad pricy however.

                                        1. I think 3rd Avenue Cheese has Murray's beat... and it is owned by the original Murray's owners... Murrays has higher prices, but then the customers have to pay for all that PR......

                                          I still miss the "real" Balducci's Some of their prices were pretty high, but otoh, they carried items I liked and couldn''t find anywhere else so easily.

                                          Kalustyan''s is a great resource.

                                          1. Them's fightin' words! As long as I've been going to Murray's (and that's at least a decade now), Rob has been involved (I'll admit I don't have intimate knowledge of the chain-of-title on the place), and it was classes with Rob (and Steve Jenkins, of Fairway) that originally got me hooked on cheese to begin with. And Cielo behind the counter? Can't imagine I'd ever want to buy cheese from anyone else, or have anyone else set up a tasting for me. Even in the "larger" space, Murray's has lost none of its charm for me --

                                            1. If you ever come to Fairfield County you must try Darien Cheese in the Goodwives Shopping Center. You feel like you are in Europe and excellent customer service.