Matt Caputo, manager of the specialty-foods-market side of Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli, was “born and bred into the specialty-foods industry.” He started at the age of 5 helping around the shop at Granato’s, which his father, Tony Caputo, ran at the time. When he was in high school, Matt worked the Granato’s counter, and that’s when he and cheese started to get serious.
He was introduced to an English cheddar—nothing like the shrink-wrapped, orange grocery-store block he’d come to associate with the term—and it blew his mind. It turned out that what he had known as “cheddar” wasn’t really cheddar at all, but a bad forgery. He set about letting the world know.
His tactics have matured as he’s grown older, but he still seeks to “transform people’s experience of food” by talking to them in the market and getting them to broaden their horizons, one delicious, stinky little nibble at a time.
He’ll still tell you why your cheddar isn’t cheddar, or why your grocery-store feta isn’t feta, and he’ll get a contemptuous crinkle across his forehead as he describes the industrial process that gives “feta” its ersatz color and flavor. But his disgust is born more of respect than of snobbery. Matt is a down-to-earth guy, and he’s passionate about his work. “Cheese,” he’ll tell you repeatedly, like a mantra, “is a living, breathing thing.”
That’s where Matt’s cheese cave comes in. Caputo’s is one of the few retail cheese caves in the United States, wherein Matt and his crew take sad cheeses—weak and tired from their long journey through the supply chain—and bring them back to their robust peak. This allows Caputo’s to offer over 200 cheeses, as fresh and lively as their producers intended. There’s got to be one you haven’t tried that you’ll like. Matt will help you find one—and probably teach you a couple of things while he’s at it.
TONY CAPUTO'S MARKET & DELI
314 W. Broadway