At Ruben Donze’s La Fromagerie, one rule is paramount: The cheese must be sampled. “There’s no better way to see what you really like,” he says. And you’d be wise to take him up on it. Donze’s grandparents ran a small dairy farm in the French Alps, where his family also vacationed in Vercors, an area famous for cheese. “I remember going to the local shepherds’ barns with my parents to make daily selections,” he says.
Despite its location in Dogpatch’s American Industrial Center, La Fromagerie has the feel of a mom-and-pop shop you might find on a cobblestone lane in Europe. The pastel-painted antique cabinets brim with treats to satisfy Francophile cravings—from Fabrique Délices charcuterie to tins of Les Palets de La Mere Poulard cookies and even frozen croissants and escargots to take home.
But, of course, it is cheese—more than 50 varieties from France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the U.S.—that stars at La Fromagerie. The menu’s specialties include a balanced, melt-in-your-mouth La Tur blend; semi-soft Morbier with a line of ash down the middle; truffle-flecked Italian Sottocenere; and creamy Reblochon-style Douceur du Jura from the area where Donze (33) grew up. Carefully arranged cheese platters, Oakland’s Firebrand artisan breads, and seasonal sandwiches by Cocotte chef Mikael Audry round out the offering. Like all small village shops, this is not the kind of store that you just whisk by. This one is for savoring.
La Fromagerie, 2425 3rd Street, 415-596-0850
This article was published in 7x7's March issue. Click here to subscribe.