A taste of the Swiss Alps has arrived in Tampa Bay — at Brooklyn South. In St. Petersburg, the Central Avenue deli is participating in a program called Adopt-an-Alp to carry exclusive Swiss cheeses while supplies last.
Swiss cheese makers and American deli owners are paired up by the Adopt-an-Alp program manager Caroline Hosstettler in the spring, and cheeses are shipped out in the winter. Brooklyn South received a shipment from the Maran Cheese Making Factory last Wednesday and is the only deli in the U.S. selling Maran's cheeses.
Brooklyn South owner Matt Bonano, a Brooklyn transplant who's worked at Mazzaro's Italian Market and cheese shops in Manhattan, says he's excited about his store's participation in the program. Bonano learned about Adopt-an-Alp through Hosstettler, a friend and Swiss cheese importer. Hossteller owns Quality Cheeses, and is Swiss herself, but now lives in Fort Myers.
The milk for Maran's cheeses comes from four different alps and is combined at its factory into the selection that Brooklyn South now exclusively offers, including a grottino, which has a creamy, light flavor profile.
Having received roughly 110 pounds of cheese, Bonano expects to sell out pretty quickly, so cheese-lovers will need to act fast. Guests can stop in for charcuterie any time, dining inside or out along the sidewalk cafe. But the shop stays open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays for the dinner crowd. Bonaro slices all the meats and cheeses fresh for each board, the deli's wine ranges from $14 to $18 per bottle.
According to the owner, the goal is to encourage customers to take some of Brooklyn South's offerings home with them, too.
"I want people to come in here, and take a little piece home," Bonano says. "Go home and sit down with your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your husband, your wife, whatever, and talk about it.
"If it's in your fridge, in your house, in your kitchen, you become more attached to it, and that’s how these Alpine cheeses are. They're made for farmers who don't get into the valleys and into the main towns. There's history there."