Food & Drink

Cheese Shop 831 Guarantees Crunchies on Your Grilled Cheese

Artisan cheese emporium carries diverse international selection

Jillian Pirolo is the owner of Cheese Shop 831. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Cheese Shop 831 is an artisan cheese emporium with a diverse international selection that focuses on small-batch, regional cheesemakers and farmsteads that are both environmentally and socially responsible.

Open 10am-5pm every day except Monday, they also offer made-to-order grilled cheese sandwiches and sides, as well as charcuterie, olives, jams, nuts, mustards and chocolates. Cheese-obsessed from birth, owner Jillian Pirolo is a lifelong California girl who worked in the tech industry for 12 years, then decided to move to Santa Cruz and follow her passion. GT recently spoke with her about all things cheese.

Tell me about your grilled cheeses. What are the favorites?

JILLIAN PIROLO: Our grilled cheese options vary and rotate. They are available from 11:30am-2:30pm, and we have always have at least two options per week. One of our longest-running ones has a hatch chili cheese and can come with or without bacon. The choices of bread we offer are country French, sourdough, and gluten-free. Another popular one is our French onion grilled cheese, which comes with gruyere and caramelized onions. People really enjoy the twist of having a sandwich that’s traditionally a soup. Another thing about our grilled cheeses is that they are rich and decadent, and you’re guaranteed to get cheese crunchies off the side of every sandwich—or else it’s free. We also offer a tomato soup (Friday-Sunday only) made with Parmigiano-Reggiano broth, as well as other rotating sides such as an organic vegetable slaw, and soon we’ll be offering mac and cheese as well.

What are a few of your most popular and unique cheeses?

The Truffle Noire gouda is a crowd favorite, as well as the Fiscalini cloth-bandaged aged cheddar from California. It, like many of our cheeses, is stand-alone delicious by itself, but also on a sandwich, burger, or grated over pasta. Another popular one is the Challerhocker, which is an Alpine-style cheese with rich, nutty flavors and a creamy texture. One unique cheese we have that you won’t find anywhere else in town is the Caveman Organic Blue from Oregon. It’s a big bruiser of a blue; it’s well-rounded with tangy, deep, earthy and rich flavors that you don’t usually find all in one blue cheese. We also have a cheese called Dirt Lover that’s a small format sheep’s milk cheese coated in vegetable ash and allowed to develop a soft, bloomy rind. It’s mild but creamy and has the much sought-after citrus and grassy notes of most sheep’s milk cheeses.

3555 Clares St., Suite V, Capitola. 831-515-7406, cheeseshop831.com.

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