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Sep 15, 2005 09:26 PM

San Diego Gourmet Cheese Shop

  • v

I recommend this European style cheese shop in San Diego with 100 imported and US cheeses.

Venissimo Cheese
754 W. Washington St.
Mission Hills

Staff is friendly and knowledgeable and freely offers small samples to taste.

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  1. I agree. They are always friendly, inviting, and knowlegdeable. They let you taste as many cheeses as you want without making you feel imposing. (I know as it should be)

    When I'm in North County I also like to go to Aniata at the Flower Hill Mall.

    I noticed another cheese shop on University, across the street from Sushi Ono. Has anyone been?

    1. One of the really nice things about Venissimo is that they'll keep track of the various cheeses that you've bought - this provides alot of help when trying to remember what you've had a few visits back. BTW the Brillat Savarin is fantastic!

      13 Replies
      1. re: KirkK

        Aniata Cheese Co. in Del Mar does the same thing. Everything is entered into your database so that you can look up something that you liked in the past. You also get a detailed receipt which clearly lists the names of the cheeses you bought--easier than trying to read the name scrawled on the cheese wrapper.

        I've been buying my cheese at Aniata ever since they opened 3 years ago. The owners, Bob and Martyna Stonebrook, are very knowledgeable about the cheese and just nice people in general. I look forward to going there every week, not only for the great cheese, but also to see friendly people that remember me and what I like.

        Contrast this with shopping at a supermarket or Whole Foods. They may have a good selection and their prices may be a bit lower, but they often don't take very good care of their cheeses. I've seen cheeses out on the floor, sweating and molding before my very eyes. Cheese is a living organism and it likes to be taken care of. It needs a cool, moist environment, not too hot or too cold, and it needs to breathe.

        Aniata lets you taste any cheese you want and buy as much or little as you like. I've had them prepare party platters for me as well. They also sell oils, vinegars, jams, olives, bread, salame, prosciutto, wine, etc. Everything you need for your picnic (or dinner, in Beth's case).


        1. re: Angie

          the other plus about Aniata is that they carry Vogues Haute-Chocolate bars (or they did, the last time I was there). much better getting them in person than ordering off the internet!

          1. re: daantaat

            Actually, ordering Voges on-line isn't terrible. I'm nto that enamored of their chocolates, but I LOVE their marshmellows.

            Also, if you bake, go to their web site and check out the recipe for the Black Pearl Cake. With a little tweaking, it is marvelous. (My tweaks were as follows - double or triple the wasabi, bake in 2 layers rather than 3, but use all the ginger syrup)

            1. re: Gayla

              I ordered a pack of their chocolate bars online and the actual chocolate came through fine, but the paper wrapping got damp from the dry ice condensation and we had to pull the bars apart from each other. Didn't ruin the chocolate, but I have a thing about needing packages to "look nice."

              Will definitely check out their Black Pearl Cake!

              1. re: daantaat

                Did you let them know about the shipping problem, I bet they'd appreciate the feedback. I ordered one of their boxes of assorted bon-bons and it arrived with no problems. They were good, but ya know, when you've spent an entire lifetime eating See's the taste buds are biased, good, bad or indifferent (sigh). The combination of flavors are indeed interesting and creative, their execution wonderful and their packaging and marketing fabulous. But they weren't good enough to make me want to order another box.

                1. re: Gayla

                  No, I didn't let them know about the shipping problem. I figured because it was summer and the box was probably sitting on our front door most of the day AND the actual chocolate was ok, it wasn't that big of a deal to say something to them. If I was ordering it for a gift for someone else, I might say something about my previous experience.

                  Funny thing about See' that my tastebuds have been opened up to Chuao and Vogues (among others), I really have a hard time eating and liking See's! Probably the only See's that I like now are their molasses chips in dark chocolate. Now their chocolate seems to lack a fullness and depth that I've found w/ other companies.

                  1. re: daantaat

                    You're right, See's is not the best chocolate going, neither is Sharffenberger for that matter. But having grown up with several chocoholics in the house and a steady and ready supply of it around it's actually more like comfort food for me. It's not the gold standard by any means, but there is a comfortable familiarity to it for me, much like a favorite pair of jeans that has been washed a few too many times and has a few too many patches on the oh so many holes. Not the best pair of jeans in the closet but the ones you always seem to reach for first, you know, the ones that you KNOW you should throw out but can't quite make yourself put then in the Goodwill or Father Joe bag.............

                    Nuts & Chews are better than the soft centers and you can get me to do just about anything (and I mean ANYTHING) if you ply me with brown sugar centers ;-)

                    BTW, I was given a gift of Chuao chocolate for Xmas by a chocolate loving friend. Extremely underwhelmed, especially by the one they bill as their top seller, the one with the goat cheese center. Go figure. I like chocolate, but I'll take a lemon, fruit dessert ice cream dessert before a chocolate one.

                    Go to and indulge in some Venezuelan choclate. Very good, very sensual.

                    1. re: Gayla

                      Funny again, I really like Chuao's goat cheese and black pepper bon bon! I think it's that combo of sweet chocolate tempered by the tang of goat cheese! The one that's also very good is the one w/ minced macadamias in it--has a nice fine crunchy texture to it.

                      I'll check out! Thanks!

                      1. re: daantaat

                        Oooh, the Chevere (goat cheese and black pepper) is my favorite Chuao's bonbon.

                        Looking at their website I notice they offer classes in chocolate making. Has anyone taken one of these? I've always been too intimidated to try tempering my own chocolate, but it would be a lot easier in a class setting.

                        Also, I love the fact that we have an artisan chocolate maker here in San Diego. Now if only we could get some cheesemakers down here. Winchester is the closest one, but that's not in San Diego County.


                        1. re: Angie

                          Hey Angie, I'm up for chocolate classes and I've got a chef/food writer/chocoholic friend who I KNOW what do love to join us. He's got better chocolate taste buds than I do and loves Chuao :-). BTW, had dinner with Elaine Gonzales at IACP back in April, what a wealth of chocolate knowledge she is.

                          If you're up for the chocolate class e-mail me off-list and we can decide on a date.

            2. re: daantaat

              If you like Vogues Haute-Chocolate bars Great News, the kitchen supply store in P.B., sells them a little bit cheaper. They had some new flavors that I haven't seen. My favorite is the Milk Chocolate, smoked almonds and grey sea salt.


              1. re: azucar

                thanks for the tip on Great News in PB! We really like the chocolate w/ grey sea salt and roasted almonds too--reminds me of chocolate covered pretzels. We're working our way through the Wooloomooloo Bar. Very different experience than the sea salt one. The Red Fire is very good too. We have the Aztec (guajillo chilis) one waiting in the freezer.

            3. re: Angie

              Angie, I couldn't have said it any better. I love Aniata and wish I lived closer so I could make a weekly trek. Chilepm bought some of Jonathan White's Spring Frolic cheese, which is a true artisinal product. Aniata is the only place in SD that I've seen his products.

              I'm partial to the Spanish cheese they sell and I love their membrillo.

          2. b
            Beth - The Zen Foodist

            This is really great to know about. Thanks for posting. I usually just get my cheeses from Whole Foods, which has a pretty good cheese selection in my opinion. But I'm sure this place is better.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Beth - The Zen Foodist

              Beth - Venissimo is a nice little shop. I'm attaching a link to their website. They have wine and sheese tasting periodically, and a monthly newsleeter as well. During the summer we pick up 3-4 types of cheese, get a baguette from Bread & Cie and have our own little wine & cheese dinner at home. And as Vistor says, if they aren't too busy the service is excellent!


              1. re: KirkK
                Beth - The Zen Foodist

                Thanks for the info, Kirk. I'm getting to the point where some good cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine is satisfying as dinner for me! But then again, I've always been a very snacky person.

                I am definitely going to try this store. Thanks!


            2. Gina at Venissimo is wonderful and the service is excellent.....Venissimo has been mentioned a few times on Chowhound but not enough :)

              The cheese shop across from Ono I think you are talking about is "Wine Steals" but I am not sure on that...