Say cheese! Grilled sandwich truck hits Fort Greene Park

The Brooklyn Paper
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One of the most historic spots in Brooklyn is now home to the most modern take on grilled cheese sandwiches.

On Sunday, Fort Greene Park became home to a new food truck run by three young chefs serving up delectable twists on the American classic, including versions with short ribs and blackberry jam, zucchini salad and sheep’s milk cheese, and one that oozes with avocado, bacon and cilantro cream that’s called “The Fort Greene.”

“Everyone loves grilled cheese — it makes people happy,” said 25-year-old Stephen Cusato, who left his job in advertising to start the Food Freaks truck. “We want to do food the old-fashioned way. If you had a mom-and-pop store, you knew everyone in town. That’s what we want to do.”

Cusato originally launched the venture with his brother Dave and their friend John Coppola as a recipe blog. But after Cusato discovering a tome of 50 grilled cheese recipes three years ago, he vowed to open a food cart dedicated to the childhood staple.

He got his chance in January, when the Parks Department began seeking vendors to supplant the usual park fare of ice cream and pretzels. Cusato and Co. won a five-year permit for the park’s DeKalb Avenue entrance.

If opening day is any indication, the trio is onto something big here.

“They don’t use cheap cheese — they’re not just lame ducks,” said T.P. Carter, who grabbed a sample and left, but returned minutes later for more.

“These guys put effort into something so simple. It’s just a proper sandwich.”

In the end, she ordered two of the six specialty sandwiches: The Three Cheese, with Fontinella, Gruyere and Gouda on potato bread; and the Garden, a fusion of Italian sheep’s milk cheese, raw carrot and zucchini on wheat.

The sandwiches start at $5.75 and come with vegetable chips.

Dave Cusato, 30, once a chef at the Zagat-rated Yonkers eatery Xaviars on the Hudson, was behind many of the gastronomical combinations. His sandwich, the Arthur Avenue, is a play on Italian Easter Pie that’s packed with ricotta, mozzarella, Soppressata, and a red pepper sweet and spicy jam. Then there’s the Short Rib ($8.75), an amalgam of beef, pickled red onions, watercress and blackberry jam on sourdough.

“We’re bringing the comfort to comfort food without being too pretentious,” he said. “Some will argue that braised short ribs is pretentious, but I don’t care what they think.”

Food Freaks Grilled Cheese [DeKalb Avenue near S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (347) 765-1664]. For info, visit

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
"But after Cusato discovering a tome of 50 grilled cheese recipes three years ago, he vowed to open a food cart dedicated to the childhood staple."

50 recipes? It's two pieces of goddamn bread with cheese between the slices. It's not quantum physics. You have to give it to him, though. He's tapped yet another play-to-the-masses of gullible, pretentious "foodie" dorks money making scam. He'll be emptying the pockets of every pipe cleaner armed Roscoe and pig knuckle-cankled Caitlin who will be awe-struck and enamored by this whimsically magical "grilled cheese".
Sept. 9, 2011, 8:14 am
LKC from Manhattan says:
Kudos to Steve, Dave, and John! I will certainly travel a burough over to have one (or two) of their creations. I don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a great grilled cheese (except for Joe Z.). I'm glad they're utilizing different cheeses - Kraft American singles really don't do it. As there are a few hundred cheeses out there, I know they have endless possibilities for crowd-pleasing grilled cheese sandwiches!
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:07 am
Daniel from Clinton Hill says:
Grilled cheese.. Oy.. LKC, you are going to travel a borough over for a grilled cheese? You are a jack ass.
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:58 am
ceedi says:
Didn't people have their panties in a bunch last summer when someone was selling water in the park? The head of the Parks Department got involved and threatened, (no they grossly curtailed ) the summer events of a certain peaceful, funloving group because someone was selling water????

NY is a sick city. fort green sucks!
Sept. 9, 2011, 11:01 am
gage from far rock says:
get these friggin Trustafarian hipster dipwads out of our city for chrissakes...they contribute nothing and are worth nothing...everything 'innovative' that they do just ends up burning out in a month....grilled cheese my ass...
Sept. 9, 2011, 1:36 pm
dave from la says:
remember teh ORIGINAL..... THE Grilled Cheese Truck in
Sept. 9, 2011, 6:21 pm
Erin from Fort Greene says:
I happened upon this truck yesterday and was offered a sample by a friendly guy out front. WOW. So tasty! I'll be back. Highly recommend these delicious sandwiches. And it's great to have SOMETHING on that stretch of the park.
Sept. 9, 2011, 7:14 pm
sledgehammer from the real brooklyn says:
The most modern take on grilled cheese sandwiches--with recipes that are 50 years old? How is that modern?

What would TRULY be modern--like yah, quirky, chic, cutting edge and avant garde and stuff, would be to offer grilled breast milk cheese sandwiches for $30. Trustafarians love them some $30 artisinal free range breast milk cheese.
Sept. 9, 2011, 7:19 pm
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
"I happened upon this truck yesterday and was offered a sample by a friendly guy out front. WOW. So tasty! I'll be back. Highly recommend these delicious sandwiches. And it's great to have SOMETHING on that stretch of the park."

I bet you tried the Peckerrino Rigido on fucacchia smothered with hot creamy sauce made from free range Coney Island Whitefish. Are you still blowing through red lights and stop signs on your fixie?
Sept. 9, 2011, 7:41 pm
Stephen Cusato from Fort Greene says:
I own this cart that all of you have been so passionately slamming all day long. Want to clear up a few things... Just for the record, the recipes aren't 50 years old, the idea was spawned from a cookbook of 50 grilled cheeses I saw in a bookstore. And as far as the assumption that I'm a trustafarian, I'm really far from it, which is the main reason I started this. I worked my ass off for this humble cart and now my partners and I work 14 hours every day. I'd invite you all over to our cart to actually meet me in person, get to know me and taste our food free of charge so you may be in a better position to speak about me and my business. I'm not a snob, I just enjoy good food. If that makes me an —— and a ——ty person, so be it.

I take no offense to your comments, in fact, I thought they were all very clever and actually pretty funny. And again, I'm offering to feed you for free, so I hope to see you guys soon, I really do...

And LCK and Erin, thanks, just let me know you commented on this post next time you come by the cart, you eat for free too!
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:41 pm
Cynthia from clinton hill says:
Hey can I eat for free too.?

Sept. 10, 2011, 12:47 am
sledgehammer from the real brooklyn says:
Wow, working 14 hours a day? That's 13 more hours a day than you worked on your unpaid advertising internships. You should really consider artisinal grilled breast milk cheese sandwiches. They'll make a big hit with the Park Slope arty farty crowd and the quirky Film Theory/Drama Studies/Art History of German and Dutch Architecture/thick eyeglasses/faux lumberjack shirt wearing/neckbeardo/wool cap and scarves in the summer fashionistas. And their parents give them the money to pay those ridiculous prices. Just be sure you catch them at the beginning of the month when their parent's checks go into their accounts. By the end of the month they're broke from too many PBRs, overpriced artisinal foods, cartons of American Spirits and iProduct purchases.
Unless you want to feed them all for free, which would be awesome.
Sept. 10, 2011, 6:58 am
SwampYankeruined Brooklye says:
"Erin from Fort Greene says:
I happened upon this truck yesterday and was offered a sample by a friendly guy out front. WOW. So tasty! I'll be back. Highly recommend these delicious sandwiches. And it's great to have SOMETHING on that stretch of the park. "

Whenever you see the words "So Tasty!" on Yelp you know this is the owner shilling his won ——. Busted cheesewad! You are shilling your own ——!
Sept. 10, 2011, 7:11 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
New Take on grilled Cheese?

No wonder idiots wait on line at Brooklyn Grimaldi's for hours, when they could go to Grimaldi's on 20th and 6th and get right in.

Get in line sheep!
Sept. 10, 2011, Noon
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
Sept. 10, 2011, 7:02 pm
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
Quoting Or from Yellow Hook

"New Take on grilled Cheese?

No wonder idiots wait on line at Brooklyn Grimaldi's for hours, when they could go to Grimaldi's on 20th and 6th and get right in.

Get in line sheep!"

leads me to also quote Frankie John of dirt mountain fame:

Sept. 10, 2011, 7:32 pm
sledgehammer from the real brooklyn says:
GTFOH Beer Guy Frankie John is a hero.
Sept. 10, 2011, 9:07 pm
Stephen Cusato says:
I love that this makes you so angry. Keep hating...
Sept. 10, 2011, 10:07 pm
Stephen Cusato says:
Thanks Cynthia, couldn't agree more. Hope to see you soon!
Sept. 11, 2011, 7:55 am
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
It takes 2.2 years for an eating establishment to break even. The average lifespan of a newly opened one is 1.9 years.

We'll be waving goodbye as you hitch your cart up and disappear in late July 2013.

Cynthia, not only is your use of alternataing upper and lower case letters, as a symbol of your quirky creative,frespirited personality, bordering on juvenile; but, so is your use of the language. "Haters" and "sammies". Simple, infantile expressions from simple minded perpetual adolescents.
Sept. 11, 2011, 9:37 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, I'm always glad to see someone willing to stick their neck out and open a business here, especially in this lousy economy.

Ignore the mindless straw man hipster bashing that litters every comment thread on this site, and continue making Brooklyn a more interesting place to live, and eat.
Sept. 11, 2011, 10:43 am
Rachel from Clinton Hill says:
My first reaction when reading the article was, "Great, something new in the neighborhood to try!" Then I read the comments. For some reason the word "troll" comes to mind. Some people are so miserable in their lives they resent others who aren't as miserable. They are angry and tear everyone else down. They can be funny and intelligent, but instead of being helpful or useful, they prefer to trash others. I am not a foodie, per se, but I enjoy creatively prepared foods and I especially love cheese. I will be happy to check out this cart/concession. If I think the food is worth the money I pay, I will be back. That is how businesses succeed or fail. Ether they give good value and earn return customers, or they don't. If you aren't interested in supporting their venture, don't. You, as negative individuals, will not make or break them. Personally,I wouldn't want a troll as a patron of my business. Their negativity just turns off the other patrons. Best of luck to Food Freaks. I hope all your hard work pays off.
Sept. 11, 2011, 10:47 am
Alex from Carroll Gardens says:
Dear Joe Z,

Your hatred for the Food Freak cart actually made me go try them today and it turns out... their food is amazing. Not only is their food amazing but they are actually really good people. And it is pretty ironic how you have so much time on your hands to bash other people who are actually trying to do something with their lives, that they clearly are extremely passionate about, when you are spending all your time and effort bashing other people on the comments section of the Brooklyn Paper...sounds like your the man.

Good luck Food Freaks.
Sept. 11, 2011, 11:06 pm
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
Aside from dirty water dogs and knishes, I don't waste my time trying out every stand pandering to what amounts to a pathological obsession with food by the gastronomically challenged.If I want genuine, unpretentious comfort food, I take a ride to Mill Basin Kosher Deli. If I'm in the mood for something more substanial, I'll take the family to a real establishment like Peter Luger's, The Palm or Rao's. Since you're probably a a recent urban pioneering staycationer from a flyover state, you probably haven't a clue as to what Rao's is. Even if you did, you couldn't get in. Compared to Rao's, Lucali's is a hole in the wall which, in truth, it is. So, go enjoy some grilled cheese of the wagon. I'll stick to the orecchiette with sausage. Sucker.
Sept. 11, 2011, 11:39 pm
John C from Marine Park says:
Hey Joe,
I work Food Freaks and i love the mill basin kosher deli, the pastrami on club in my fave, and its great. Lugers is a classic, i love the creamed spinach and the way they spoon over the juices on the steak. Ive been to Rao's 2x and it was also very good, which was surprising cause i thought it was all hype. The meatballs were light and fluffy. The veal chop was well prepared, and the orecchiette was memorable. Anytime you wanna go just ask, i have a table every 3rd friday. Glad to hear you eat well Joe, anytime you wanna talk good food, just drop a line.
Sept. 12, 2011, 11:43 am
Kevin from Fort Greene says:
As a Fort Greene resident for the past 8 years (Greenpoint before that, Sunset Park before that, Astoria then Jamaica Queens before that, but born and raised in the Bronx - sad that the constant e-bashing makes me feel the need to validate my NYC credentials), I'm more than happy that a new place to eat has sprung up in the neighborhood. Who cares if it's part of the trendy food truck revolution (if it didn't work, it wouldn't become a trend), and who cares if the idea of the cuisine sounds pretentious and hipster-pandering. Like another commenter said earlier - if the food is good and worth my money, I'll eat it...and then eat it again. I grew up eating Rao's once a week, been to Luger's enough for my lifetime, hate the Palm, and have yet to try the Mill Basin Kosher (but thanks for the recommendation), but I fail to see what any of that has to do with buying a quick lunch from a food truck. You're comparing apples to oranges and bragging for the sake of bragging.
Just my 2 cents.
Sept. 12, 2011, 12:53 pm
Jay from Clinton Hill says:'s just food everybody. Chill.
Sept. 12, 2011, 1:19 pm
GD from FG/CH says:
So much hate going on! So what if it's "just" grilled cheese? Good food is good food, and I've lived in the nabe long enough to remember when there wasn't any in this part of town. Though a cheese sandwich for $6 seems a bit *cough* "precious" *cough*. Good luck to these guys, and I'll be stopping by for a sample.
Sept. 12, 2011, 1:26 pm
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
Damn i want that grilled cheese with avocado and bacon sandwich.
Sept. 18, 2011, 12:50 am
Loc from FG says:
Gd from FG/CH. Whatcha mean, you lived here long enough to remember when you couldn't get anything decent to eat, that's a falsehood.
Just shows you haven't lived in the nabe long at all.
What a joke!!!!!!!
Sept. 19, 2011, 3:35 pm
Dawn from Wakefield, BX says:
Wow...very scary that people have SO much free time on their hands that they have to come back to a message board over and over again to bash a new eatery.

I am doing some research on packaging and stumbled across this site. I love it that, despite a painfully bad economy, the entreprenuerial spirit in America is still alive and well.

As for the concept, I love a new spin on something that can become boring. Grilled cheese and zuchini (sp)? Gotta try it. Question for all of you who question this concept: hasn't the cheeseburger been done to death too? Just because a sandwich doesn't have 12 lbs of beef doesn't mean it won't "hit the spot!" Great work guys!!!!!!
Sept. 27, 2011, 4:08 pm
Dawn from Wakefield, BX says:
A classic case of...jealousy-induced "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" syndrome...
Sept. 27, 2011, 4:13 pm
Susan from Fort Greene says:
"Haters" - defined as people that judge and bash others - hate themselves. When someone hates himself or herself, he or she cannot appreciate others and their attempts to be successful. For me, the comments from haters, while annoying, are meaningless. And because these haters have so much time to post new comments, I'm certain they're not improving their own lives and learning to like themselves, so they can like others. Enough psychology. The grilled-cheese sandwiches are delicious. I return once weekly to get the sandwich with sheep's milk and shaved carrots and zucchini, or a "vegetarian" version of the Fort Greene. The wheat-Pullman bread is crispy.
Oct. 8, 2011, 6:53 pm
Livsmama from Nyack, N.Y says:
I can not wait to try one of your creative cheesy good sandwiches ! Dave I'm proud of you. I personally know what goes into building a business. I wish you all the best of luck! Liv wants to try one too! Any thing for 1 year olds? :)
Dec. 10, 2011, 9:15 am
DS from NY says:
Dave, after I saw you on chopped, I knew you'd go far. When you were on chopped, what did the red hankie tied to your left wrist signify?
Oct. 2, 2012, 11:31 pm

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