Cheese lovers, rejoice! A new restaurant in Pompton Lakes isn’t afraid to get cheesy; in fact, it’s what they are all about. The Cheese Bar – now open – offers all things cheese, from artisan grilled cheese sandwiches to homemade Italian cheesecake. They also promise each bite is full of a unique combo of cheesy ingredients.
Owner/Chef Vincent Castoro is a New Jersey native, born and raised. No stranger to great Italian food, Vincent’s great grandfather as well as his sons owned numerous restaurants during Vincent’s childhood. Of course, Vincent also has a passion for cooking, learning from his long line of family cooks.
At The Cheese Bar, Vincent has a way of creating new recipes from the classics his family pass down. His road to head chef went from working as a server, bartender, and cook, to general manager at places all throughout North Jersey. With all this experience, he is now a pro in all aspects of the restaurant and food service business.
As fate would have it, The Cheese Bar now sits where an Italian deli and caterer once stood. Meanwhile, the 384-square foot, 28-seat eatery boasts 12 high-top and lower tables. You’ll also find coffered black ceiling tiles with string lights looping side to side. Dark hardwood floors line the length of the dining room; and a wood panel wall adorned with The Cheese Bar logo divides the kitchen from the dining room.
“Décor is minimalist and inviting, yet modern and sophisticated,” says Vincent. Walls are a warm slate blue with large, blown-up canvas pictures of his family and their many restaurants. “It pays tribute to my family heritage and long line of restaurants,” he adds.
Cutting (and Cooking and Serving) The Cheese (Bar)
Patrons love the small plate options such as the fig and toasted almond bake brie. They also can’t get enough of the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, which is always made to order. As for the grilled cheese options, Vincent credits the grilled cheese trend to simple nostalgia. “I think ‘fancy’ grilled cheese is popular right now because people are looking for something a little different,” he says.
“Everyone can relate and remember when their mom made them that gooey grilled cheese sandwich as a kid. But now as an adult, they can have that same warm gooey grilled cheese feel that can be turned into a true meal by adding some favorites.” For instance, at The Cheese Bar, sandwiches include pulled pork, skirt steak, and marinated chicken. But instead of American cheese, these signature delights use brie, Havarti, gruyere, and fontina.
Likewise, Vincent raves about the chicken Havarti B.L.T. grilled cheese. The sandwich includes grilled marinated chicken, Havarti cheese, smoked bacon, mixed greens, Jersey tomatoes and mayo on homemade focaccia bread. (In fact, they make the bread daily.) Just be sure to save room for dessert. Vincent suggests the homemade Italian cheesecake, partly because it is his great grandma’s recipe. Click here to see the full menu.
If you are looking for a perfect wine pairing for your cheesy meal, you’re in luck; The Cheese Bar carries Villa Milagro wines. They offer three reds and three whites, which are all blends.
In addition, keep your eyes peeled for frequent trivia nights, as well as paint nights. The Cheese Bar also plans to serve Sunday brunch starting in March. The brunch menu, in particular, offers seven new items plus a juice bar featuring fruits and juices for make-your-own mixed drinks.
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All Photos: © The Cheese Bar / Facebook