Italian cuisine is famous for its pizza and pasta dishes. Though they include multiple ingredients, one of them seems to always be in the mix – Italian cheese.
We all know that you can’t beat the Italians regarding cooking and the quality of ingredients, so the best solution is to learn from them.
Multiple types of Italian cheeses have the flavor to die for, but only a few could make our list. We’ve gathered and put the most popular and best Italian cheese variants in this article.
If you’re into soft cheeses, Italy is the promised land. Mozzarella and mascarpone are known worldwide, and you’ve already experienced their beauty. However, there is more to Italian cuisine than we know in the States.
Burrata is a soft, white Italian cheese made from stracciatella, mozzarella, and cream. It came from the Campania region and was created in the 1950s to minimize food waste.
This type of cheese is made using cow’s milk. It’s recognizable by its lush texture that resembles butter and fresh cream. With a creamy inner filling and an outer mozzarella skin, this Italian cheese is perfect by itself or served with bruschetta.
Of all the types of Italian cheeses, this one is likely the most well-known. Mozzarella is a staple of Italian cuisine and likely one of the most popular cheeses worldwide.
The traditional recipe used buffalo milk, though today, cow’s milk is often used as the base for mozzarella fior di latte.
The original recipe for mozzarella di bufala gave creamier and lighter cheese as a result. Most Italians would say this is the proper way to do things if you wish to create the best Italian cheese.
The unique texture and delicate taste bring most people back to mozzarella. This cheese is a delicious appetizer on its own, often served with olive oil, as well as in salads and, of course, PIZZA!
Italian food will always allow you to bring cheese into the mix.
It’s hard to go through a list of the most popular cheeses in Italy and not mention mascarpone.
This famous cheese from Lombardy is made from cream, and many would still consider it cream instead of cheese. Made from cow’s milk, mascarpone has a creaminess perfect for spreading on top of both hot pieces of bread and plain crackers.
Still, tiramisu is what this cheese is mainly seen in.
There are multiple sources on how this cheese got the name mascarpone. The two main ones claim that either it came from the word “mascherpa,” which refers to milk cream, or a Spanish nobleman yelling “Mas Que Bueno” upon consumption.
Regardless of the origin, mascarpone is beloved today, and we’ll have it in tiramisu ASAP.
Lombardy is known for its wine but has more to offer regarding Italian cuisine. Gorgonzola is named after the city it comes from, and it’s placed in this specific region of Italy.
This blue cheese has become a crowd favorite, and we can see it featured on more and more menus worldwide.
Gorgonzola is quite diverse, so there are plenty of ways to have it with Italian food. Since it’s a bit runny without much heat, it’s often used as a pizza topping. But there are sweet and spicy versions available, so pizza is far from the only solution for Gorgonzola.
Fontina is a cheese made from cow’s milk that comes from The Aosta Valley. In fact, this region is a protected designation of origin.
This cheese is made from milk obtained in a single milking, with salt and water added. The mixture is then semi-cooked to reach a sweet and elastic cheese state.
After aging for three months, fontina is ready for consumption. Feel free to have it on its own or to enjoy it with soups, salads, and steaks. And, since it melts well, it’s always a good idea to try it in a grilled cheese sandwich. No matter which option you choose, fontina is a decent solution. It will give all Italian food an extra kick.
Scamorza is a cow’s milk cheese that comes from Southern Italy. This stretched-curd cheese matures in its own whey to develop more acidity.
You’ll recognize this cheese by its shape. Two connected balls that differ in size are made by a string that holds the cheese together and allows it to ripen for the appropriate time.
Though it’s often compared to mozzarella, scamorza is sweeter and not as wet. These characteristics make it ideal for baking.
Pecorino is a hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s tangy, nutty, and savory, and its full flavor profile will depend on how long the cheese was aged.
Pecorino is famous in Tuscany but will vary based on the region of Italy it originates in. Pecorino Romano is the most popular version out there, and you’ve likely had it on pasta sometime in your life. Pecorino Sardo is also worth mentioning as a popular variation.
This famous Italian cheese dates back to the 13th century and is mentioned in literature more often than any other cheese. No wonder it’s still so widely popular.
The full name, Parmigiano Reggiano, is inspired by the names of the regions this cheese originated in. Parma and Reggio Emilia gave the world the best Italian cheese. At least, that’s what many people believe.
Parmesan is made with whole and skimmed cow’s milk and aged for a year before consumption. The aging allows the cheese to dry out and reach the recognizable crumbly texture we all know and love. Of course, we can’t forget about the salty, umami flavor.
To this day, Parmigiano Reggiano is made almost entirely natural, which is unusual and should be appreciated.
Grana Padano is a cheese very similar to parmesan. Their texture is almost the same, but differences are existent.
Firstly, Grana Padano requires a much shorter aging period. Then, its flavor is milder. And the production process is simpler and way less pricy.
This cheese can be produced throughout the year. It uses skimmed cow’s milk, and the flavor will vary based on the time of the year the cheese was made.
Wherever you use parmesan, feel free to try Grana Padano. Maybe this more affordable version is worth trying.
Now that you know a bit more about Italian food, maybe it’s time to try the best of it.
If you’re in Miami and the area, visit Mi’talia Kitchen & Bar. We’ll serve you the best dishes from Italy, with our unique twist on each one.
Remember, you don’t have to travel the world to try authentic Italian dishes – Mi’talia is right around the corner.