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Home » FOOD AND WINE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » New Haven’s ‘Big Cheese’
The Impressive Selection of Cheeses
New Haven’s ‘Big Cheese’

Part 1 - Caseus Bistro of New Haven – More Than Just an Eating Experience

By Brian Scott-Smith | January 18, 2012

In a city of nearly two hundred restaurants, many of which are Zagat rated, you’d think it would be hard to stand out in the crowd.

The Caseus Sign

Well in the case of Caseus Bistro, you’d be wrong.

The gastro pub and cheese shop, yes; you read that correctly, is a short walk from New Haven’s downtown area, which is littered with every conceivable eatery a foodie could ever dream of.

This little piece of ‘cheese heaven’ has been going for just over four years and whether its lunch or dinner, it’s always packed.

Caseus, which is Latin for ‘cheese’ is the creation of New Haven native Jason Sobocinski, who has an enviable position within the restaurant arena through sheer hard, charm and family and friends who believed in him.

And in those short few years has evolved in to a cheese truck, a new cookbook, a TV series; about cheese, and a second restaurant in nearby Hamden.

Sobocinski certainly seems to have a Midas touch and his finger on the pulse of modern cuisine and what people want.

But he recalls that being a restaurant owner wasn’t something he was planning on becoming when he was working at the famous Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts while gaining his master’s degree in gastronomy from Boston University.

Jason Sobocinski

“I started looking for properties in New Haven about a year before I even moved back, and I saw this space a couple of times. First time I saw it I said no way it’s too big, I wanted to open up a small cheese shop that’s it. I didn’t want to get into the restaurant business because it’s killer hours, no life and you’re getting your ass kicked day in, day out. So I looked at the space three more times and then I said, OK, I’m going to get in to the restaurant business because it’s a passion of mine and I just love feeding people.”

His gamble paid off. Sobocinski is a shrewd businessman. He’d seen cheese shops come and go before and knew that if he wanted to make it a success he had to turn around a large volume of product, which is highly perishable.

His cheese shop carries well over one hundred different types of cheese and apart from being able to buy as much or as little as you want of this daunting local and international collection, you can also taste it in all of the dishes served in the bistro.

“If I’d just opened a cheese shop here we’d have been closed within the first year. Having the restaurant and doing things like the cheeseboards, the charcuterie boards, allowed us to introduce the products to the people slowly.

“You come in, you don’t have to buy a quarter pound or something for you know ten, twelve bucks and feel I only got this little piece of cheese for a lot of money.

The Cheeseboard

“You have the story of the cheese told to you by your server, you get four different cheeses, you get bread, and you get nuts and a jam.   We talk about how to do a cheeseboard basically, how to eat it, from the lightest cheese up to the strongest cheese, and you experience, what to me, is the perfect food.”

So popular is the Caseus experience that reserving your table is highly recommended.

And the food speaks for itself on many levels from taste to presentation to creativity, but above all it’s probably the ‘comfort factor’ that the cheese and other ingredients create that keeps people beating a path to the bistro’s door.

Good old Mac and Cheese is one of the favorites at Caseus, but there’s nothing traditional about this classic.

“If you look at what cheese goes in to our mac and cheese it’s anything but traditional. Comte, Raclette, Gruyere, Gouda’s and fresh Chevre are not comforting to people, those cheese actually scare people; they’ve not seen their names before, they smell funny, they’re hard to pronounce and they’re wicked expensive.

“So to take something people are not used to and bring it down to a mac and cheese level, which everyone can kind of relate to, that to me has been the key to our success.”

In part two of The Big Cheese, Sobocinski talks about the ‘cheese truck’, his television debut and cookbook, and taking on a second restaurant.


Caseus Fromagerie Bistro

93 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06510

(203) 624-3373


Opening Hours:

Mon – Tue: 11.30AM - 2.30PM

Wed – Thu: 11.30AM - 2.30PM, 5.30PM - 9PM

Fri & Sat: 11.30AM - 2.30PM, 5.30pm - 9.45PM

Sun: Closed

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