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Food Freaks Grilled Cheese

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.”

Where: DeKalb Avenue near S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene
Tel: (347) 765–1664
How much: $4-$8.75
Cash only.
Updated Feb. 1, 2012
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