There are dozens and dozens of food shops in New York City that sell cheese. A smaller number of these shops offer what I like to call a "cheese experience"—a broad and/or carefully curated selection, knowledgeable staff, and unique atmosphere.
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Murray's was established in 1940 and went through several incarnations, owners, and locations before becoming what it is today: a busy gourmet shop known primarily for its vast cheese selection. There is always something new to discover at Murray's and the staff is passionate about what they sell.
- Greenwich Village: 254 Bleecker St. between 6th & 7th
- Grand Central: 43rd St. & Lexington (in center of market)
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Saxelby's is a pint-sized stall inside The Essex St. Market focusing on American farmstead cheese made in the Northeastern US. The selection rotates with the seasons and you will always find a cheese you've never seen in other cheese shops. The staff is friendly and so are the customers; conversations often break-out in front of the tiny cheese case. The owner, Anne Saxelby, got her start at Murray's Cheese shop and also worked at several small dairy farms in the US and abroad.
- Lower East Side: 120 Essex St. at Delancey
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Di Palo's Fine Foods
The DiPalo family has been in the business of selling imported Italian cheeses, meats, and other culinary products in Little Italy for five generations. This store is a gem, filled with authentic products sold at fair prices. Their selection of cheese is strictly Italian—make sure to try their homemade Mozzarella. The no-nonsense staff is efficient and accustomed to dealing with a constant line of people; rarely do they fail to offer a taste of whatever cheese or meat they are slicing.
- Little Italy: 200 Grand Street between Mott & Mulberry
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Fairway is a grocery store with a cheese department like no other. Their website claim of "We Invented Cheese" may be a bit over the top, but in terms of quantity and quality, they are in a league of their own. The cheese program at Fairway was kick-started by Steven Jenkins, master cheesemonger and author of the "Cheese Primer."
- Upper West Side: 2127 Broadway at 74th St. (plus more locations outside of Manhattan)