In 2005, Melody Dosch was a lawyer and cheese lover living in the San Fernando Valley, which posed two problems. She was tired of practicing law and tired of having to drive over the hill to get cheese in Beverly Hills or Silver Lake. Her solution was to shelve her Bar card and open >Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City with parents Fred and Kay Heinemann on August 26, 2005. For their logo, a wedge of Swiss acts as a canvas.
When opening in 2005, Melody recruited Sophia Villareal, a veteran of Greens in San Francisco and the Getty Center restaurant, to design a menu of panini and salads that would incorporate cheeses and change on a weekly basis. The menu has become increasingly ambitious and. It was agonizing to decide which sandwiches to order.
To tide us over until our sandwiches arrived, I considered the “World’s Best Mozzarella (just flown in fresh from Italy, the same as served at Mozza),” but opted for the mix-and-match 3 Cheese Platter ($12.95). After sampling different cheeses, which is highly encouraged , the counterwoman topped my wood plank with A Jorge, a raw cow milk cheese from California; Pata Cabra, a semi-soft aged goat cheese from Zaragosa, Spain; and Abbaye de Belloc – a French sheep’s milk cheese made by Benedictine Monks in the French Pyrenees. The firm cheeses were “plated” on labeled swaths of butcher paper and joined by dried cranberries, dried apricots and candied walnuts. On the side, we received a little basket of sliced Breadbar focaccia, which was soft and delicious.
Duck Confit ($9.75) panini featured salted duck leg meat, cooked in its own fat, along with sliced Le Marechal unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese, and a token amount of fig jam on Breadbar ciabatta. Delicious.
During ACG’s first year in business, they offered a salad and raspberry chocolate truffle with each sandwich, the latter made in house by Robert Spano. Sadly, the chocolates are no more, but they offer a compelling replacement, a small dish of Tony Packo’s sweet-hot pickles, direct from Toledo, which were astoundingly good, much more complex than standard pickles.
The ACG Muffuletta ($9.75) featured fennel salami, spicy capacolla, mortadella with pistachio, fresh mozzarella, olive relish and mustard on Breadbar olive batard. Thanks to higher-quality ingredients and char-grilled bread, the sandwich tasted even better than at Central Grocery in New Orleans, where the muffuletta was invented.
There was a flyer by the register listing Specials for Week of December 2. The Greek-influenced Leg of Lamb Sandwich ($11) hosted juicy slices of roasted leg of lamb, mint pesto, crumbled feta cheese, sweet caramelized onions and Surfing Goat Dairy tzatziki, all crammed into on baguette, which was grilled on the panini press. Excellent.
The Turkey Pancetta Special ($10) was stacked with thick slices of roast free-range turkey breast, crispy pancetta, pesto, spicy mixed greens, and fior de latte (imported Italian mozzarella) on baguette.
Artisan Cheese Gallery offer dozens of interesting cheeses, but it’s their advanced menu of cheesy sandwiches and salads that elevates it above other similar establishments around L.A. County.