When I learned my friend was stopping through town for a bit upon her return from India, I knew it was time to check out a new wine bar. She’s a total oenophile and had been telling us for months that the one thing that India couldn’t seem to deliver on would hands down be wine.
I was hopeful that an early start would mean that we could grab a table at Casellula, a little wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen (errr Clinton, whichever you choose). They don’t do reservations, so especially with our group of four, early was the best way to go.
We started by checking out their rosés. I’m not usually a fan, so I was curious to see how theirs were. They let us taste a couple, which I appreciated. I really liked the one the bartender suggested (sadly not listed on the menu in their website online – so if you view the menu on there, know there are more options available when you actually do visit), and at $9 a glass it was a steal for a wine bar. I was also curious about their sparkling Shiraz and had to try (from The Black Chook – McLaren Vale, Australia ). Not bad, but I actually far preferred the rosé. First time for everything.
For food, we wanted to try as much as possible, so we ordered several dishes for the table to share. First up, we had their watermelon salad, a simple and fresh mix of arrugula, cubed watermelon, and almonds. This salad just screamed summer, down to the juicy bits of watermelon. Wonderful start to the meal, which also paired nicely with the rosé.
Next, we had the grilled cheese, which was prepared with sliced tomatoes and accompanied by a salad. It arrived nicely quartered for us, ready for consumption. The tomatoes were fresh and worked well with the slightly sharp cheese in the sandwich. Appropriate that the cheese would be so good for a wine bar and it definitely delivered.
The third thing to appear was the mac and cheese, prepared with three cheeses (fol epi, comté, and chevre), lardons, and caramelized onions. The mix was just right. The three cheeses they picked were not your everyday variety, a fact noticeable in the taste. I love bacon in with my mac and cheese, so the addition of the lardons was welcomed. It was like bacon, but up a notch. The cubed nature made the flavor more noticeable than bacon crumbles would be – a fitting match to stand up to the stronger cheese flavor – all, of course, capped off by the right amount of bread crumbs. Highly recommend.
And, last but not least, was the dish that I’d read much about and that people perhaps most know Casellula for – the pig’s ass sandwich. That’s what the menu says folks, and it’s good too, let me tell you. It’s done with a Fiscalini cheddar as well as another appearance by fol epi as well as pickles and a chipotlé aioli. I really liked that the flavors seemed to meld together, with the cheese nice and melted seemingly combining with the aioli and the pickles. The cheese gave it a sharp flavor and the aioli and pickles added a bit of spice. Such a unique sandwich. I recommend giving it a try, at least once.
I’ll be back again for another visit – next time for meats, cheeses, and, of course, dessert.
Casellula – 401 West 52 Street (at 9th Avenue) – 212.247.8137
Reservations Not Accepted