New Yorkers were clearly thinking long term when they opened a row of eating establishments along Bleecker Street. Faicco’s Pork Store dates to 1900, though it debuted elsewhere in downtown Manhattan. John’s Pizzeria sprouted in 1929, and Murray’s Cheese dates to 1940. Current owner Rob Kaufelt has expanded over the years to include subterranean cheese caves, a glass-fronted Cheese Course classroom and naturally expanded retail shelving to support these efforts. This is all to say that Murray’s takes cheese seriously.
Kaufelt and his team divide the cheeses into different categories: Fresh, Soft-Ripened, Alpine, Firm/Semi-Firm, Cheddar and more. They’ve also got plenty of other snacks/ingredients, with displays devoted to olives, pickles, pasta, yogurt and salume.
The staff clearly has a sense of humor, considering a sign behind the cheese reads, “Let’s Grow Mold Together,” referring to the temperature and humidity controlled cheese caves.
Links of salume stood on end in wood boxes.
They posted a menu of Murray’s Melts near the register, and my friend Ben raved about the Breakfast Melt ($5.99), and it was great, with an oozing fried egg, thick-cut bacon and molten Fontina on a hot English muffin.
Feather light Cheese Straws ($28.99/lb) featured puff pastry crusted with sharp Grana Padano and cayenne pepper.
They plucked a single Risotto Ball ($1.49) from a display. The oversized arancini sported a light coating of bread crumbs, oregano and thyme, which shielded a risotto core they’d cooked with chicken stock, white wine. Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, thyme, parsley, green peas and saffron. The flavor was good, but it was fairly dense.
Fresh Mozzarella & Sopressata Flatbread ($3.99) combined Tom Kat Bakery bread with Lioni mozzarella, Columbus sopressata and sweet marinated roasted tomatoes with concentrated flavor.
We also submitted to an impulse buy for the plane, register-adjacent beer pretzel caramels, gritty, sticky sweet and crunchy.
Murray’s has plenty of cheese, and they know how to use it, but when we return, the goal will be to stick to pure product. Eating like a caveman never sounded so tempting.