Meet Matt, Your New Cheesemonger
Before moving to Downtown St. Pete, my husband and I used to live in Manhattan, right around the corner from Russo’s, an Italian shop that sold homemade cheeses, artisanal meats and other tasty snacks. My husband had moved down to St. Pete earlier to set us up and secure a job he was offered. He was really missing Russo’s, so the first time I flew down to visit him, my carry-on was stuffed with 3 lbs of prosciutto and cheese, the things you do for love.
When I finally joined him in St.Pete, we began the hunt for a market of our own. A couple of months later, we noticed a sign posted in a window storefront that read “Coming Soon: Brooklyn South, Gourmet & Specialty Cheese, Meats & Foods.” When the shop opened, we decided to check it out. Turns out that Brooklyn South is a cheese lover’s paradise. They sell an amazing selection of homemade, natural, non-processed cheeses and meats. The owner Matt Bonano is a professional chef, committee member of the American Cheese Society, and has worked in some of the finest cheese institutions around the US, including Alons Bakery in Atlanta, Artisanal Bistro in NYC, Murray’s Cheese in NYC, and most recently at Mazzaro’s in St. Pete, FL.
At Artisanal, he worked as a cheese cave manager where he crafted his skill of aging and nurturing cheese until it reached it’s peak ripeness, texture and flavor. He handled thousands of pieces of cheeses each week. Matt really knows a lot about cheese and can help you with your selections, offering tastings and pairings. A quarter-pound piece of cheese ranges in price from $3 to $8. And if the amazing selection of cheese and friendly service is not enough to entice you, they have the most delightful accompaniments to go with the cheese, including Brooklyn knishes, olives, honeys, hot sauces, jelly, jams, and chutneys. Soon, he will be offering fresh baguettes, wine and beer.
Oh my goodness and the sandwiches! I think my heart just skipped a beat. Matt is a Sandwich God. My favorite so far is the Turkey with Taleggio and Tomato. The ciabatta is perfectly toasted and crisp and the cheese is creamy and delicious. I felt like I was biting into a gooey cloud. Matt told me that the sandwiches are the most popular items in the store, particularly the Rosemary Ham with Cheddar Cheese and the Rosemary Chicken with Smoked Mozzarella. Also, at around $8 a pop, the sandwiches are reasonably priced, especially when you factor in the quality of the ingredients.
Matt’s mantra is “quality always wins” and he likes to focus on American made products. The majority of his cheeses come from Georgia, North Carolina, New York, and Vermont, and most of his meats come from California. He imports some of his meats and cheeses from Italy and Spain. He also enjoys collaborating with local businesses. In fact, he has some fun cheese and beer pairing events coming up:
Tuesday, November 18th – St. Pete Brewing Company
Monday, December 1st – The Amsterdam
Tuesday, December 2nd – Sly Bar (Ugly Sweater Party)
Tuesday, December 9th – The Ale And The Witch
Brooklyn South has become my go to stop; I don’t even miss Russo’s. With all the holiday parties coming up, I suggest you stop by Brooklyn South for your entertaining needs since it’s a great way to win popularity amongst your friends. At the very least, stop in for a sandwich!
1437 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33705