Despite being only a few years young, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop has quickly become an Austin staple, loved by many. You’ll see their name on a good number of restaurant menus throughout the city, and don’t be surprised if you bump into the friendly owners at a community event.
The owners, John and Kendall Antonelli, have fully embraced Austin and love being a part of such a diverse and blossoming food culture. Their humble Hyde Park shop is fully stocked with a range of wonderful cheeses, beautifully carved charcuterie, and hand-selected beers and wines – what’s not to love?
Antonelli’s had its beginning in a small space on the west side of Duval in 2010. Early last year, the company was able to expand with a property right across the street, at 4220 Duval St. They call the new property The Cheese Shop and it’s just beautiful – modern design and decor, stainless kitchen, and plenty of space to host their numerous classes and events. Kendall was nice enough to have me out to visit both properties on a day when the shop was closed.
Because Antonelli’s has integrated so well into the local scene, I asked why the couple originally chose Austin, and what they love most about the community. “My family is scattered throughout Texas and I felt the need to be closer to them. Austin offered the fun adventure we were looking for where we could make our own way,” Kendall replied. “It’s exciting and humbling to be a part of Austin’s food growth spurt. Regardless of your interest in food, there’s something for you in Austin.”
Kendall also addressed the geographic area they chose for the business. “We chose Hyde Park because we wanted somewhere with a diverse population that was accessible to biking, busing, walking, and parking,” Kendall commented. “It gives us that romanticized feel of being a mom and pop shop and seeing kids come in and grow up in the store.”
Being a cheese novice myself, I had to ask about favorite cheeses and pairing advice. “Picking a favorite cheese is like picking a favorite child,” Kendall told me. “But I do love brainy rinds and stinky, washed rind cheeses,” she confessed. “As far as pairings go, play with it. I think people take pairings too seriously. We’re always playing with our food. I like to go off the beaten path. Try candied walnuts or pickled blueberries instead of the traditional strawberry jam.”
Antonelli’s started with a team of three people and has grown impressively. The company’s eleventh Cheesemonger was recently hired, and you can read about each and every one of them on Antonelli’s website. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, you’ll find cheese boards and gift baskets readily available to pick up on the go. The classes held in the Cheese House every week offer a fantastic way to mix up your typical date night.
Whether it’s the pleasant waft of stinky cheese that makes my mouth water, the one-of-a-kind classes and events held at the Cheese House, the friendly attitudes of the owners, or a combination of all three, I know I’ll be coming back to Antonelli’s Cheese Shop again and again.
Have you tried Antonelli’s?