The Cheese Store in Little Italy (1980 Kettner) is getting a remodel. A renovation effort will keep on current proprietor Marci Flores. She’ll advise on remaking the cozy spot into a Spanish tapas and wine bar to be called Bar Bodega.
Plans call for Bar Bodega to open in April. Servings will include cheese and charcuterie boards, fresh legs of Jamón Serrano, fresh artisan bread, olive oil and Spanish olives. Expect a wide variety of wine from all over the world, including, natcha, Sangria.
Hours will be extended to serve lunch and dinner.
“We have a new chef on board with us, David Lopez Gutierrez, who studied at Lic. en Arte Culinario in Tijuana,” say Flores and Ken Karlan, in a prepared statement. “[Gutierrez] worked under the respected chef Chad White at Comun and our friend, chef Ryan Studebaker at MIHO in San Diego. Gutierrez’s menu is inspired by authentic Spanish tapas, with influences of San Diego and Mexico. You will find classic Spanish tapas like gazpacho, lamb albondigas, Spanish tortilla, padrone peppers and papas bravas.”
SAY CHEESE, BAR BODEGA
My introduction to The Cheese Store (not to be confused with former downtown eatery The Cheese Shoppe) is a fond memory. My wife and I were cruising Little Italy’s Saturday Mercato, and bounded up to the Store’s Farmer’s Market booth on Cedar Street. A friendly man in dark shades (who turned out to be Flores’ husband, Aaron) turned us on to an unusually looking piece of red-tinged cheese. It turned out to be Red dragon, a buttery and spicy Welsh cheddar that contains wholegrain mustard and Welsh ale.
After a sample—or six—Aaron let us know that The Cheese Store was just around the corner. And that they had a sandwich that featured Red dragon. We quickly headed over to the Kettner location and sat at a table inside their pristine white store. (When I saw the Ron Burgundy stencil on the wall near the entrance I knew this was a place that belonged on the map.)
The Turk sandwich was made with warm Diestel turkey breast. It came with the Red dragon and pickled onions, avocado and aioli, served on a pretzel-bread roll.
No information yet on whether The Turk will make the cut at Bar Bodega. But I’ll be dragon myself over to check out the new menu.