An iconic establishment in Mattituck, The Village Cheese Shop has perfectly fit into the ambience of Long Island Wine Country for over a decade. The shop continues to be a mainstay under new owner Michael Affatato.
Affatato, who boasts an extensive background in the wine industry, purchased the business from longtime owner and friend Rosemary Batcheller last summer, and he officially took over in October. The Village Cheese Shop will maintain its charm, while expanding its offerings.
“I’ve augmented the cheese selection by 15%,” says Affatato of his first move as owner. The shop now includes over 200 different varieties, as well as caviar, foie gras and artisan meats. Patrons are welcome to sit in the on-site café and enjoy one of five made-to-order fondues, which come with bread and apples for dipping. Charcuterie, beer, wine and cider are also now available. Affatato has maintained the shop as a destination, and he plans to host Fondue Friday, where the Village Cheese Shop will stay open late so that patrons can partake in the molten, cheesy concoctions.
Of course, the shop will still put together gift baskets and cheese platters for those heading to the wineries. “People will feel quite satiated, taste-wise,” says Affatato about the shop’s new products.
Many of the offerings are high-end, specialty cheeses, and because the wholesalers don’t ship to the East End, Affatato does many pickups himself.
“You can just imagine the smell of my car,” he jokes, although he rents U-Haul trucks to bring the cheese from the city airports to their new home on the North Fork. He is intimately familiar with the trip to Newark Airport, much to his dismay, but the extra effort “guarantees that we’re going to have the best cheese east of New York City,” he says.
Affatato’s favorite cheese right now is a Shorpshire, which is a UK-based cheese in the Stilton family. It’s creamy, rich and complex. He recommends pairing it with Lieb Cellars’ unoaked Chardonnay, which is also available for purchase at the shop. Drinks currently on offer includes Lieb Cellars wines and Long Ireland beers, in addition to apple and pear hard ciders from France. Patrons are also welcome to bring their own bottles to enjoy with the cheeses in the shop. “I want to keep the selection of wines here only Long Island and French,” says Affatato. “I have an admiration for Long Island wines.” And his affinity for French wines comes from the time he spent in France working in the food and wine industry.
Affatato, who was born in Brooklyn and now calls his childhood house in Rocky Point his home, came to the cheese business by way of the wine business. After working as a sales rep in the wine industry, Affatato and his then-wife moved to France to further increase their knowledge and experience in the gourmet food and wine industry. The duo eventually purchased a winery on the Dordogne River, running the establishment as
a bed and breakfast for 10 years. Many of the wines were rated by Wine Spectator and Bon Appétit magazines.
“Wine and cheese are linked, especially with French wine,” says Affatato with regard to his foray into the cheese business.
For those wondering where former owner Batcheller has gone, Affatato notes that the two are friends, and he assures everyone that the she’s still involved. “If I need help, I’ll ask Rosemary to come in. I can think of nobody better than her,” he says.
The Village Cheese Shop is located at 150 Love Lane, Mattituck. For more info, call 631-298-8556 or visit thevillagecheeseshop.com.