Mozzarella is perhaps America’s favorite Italian cheese—but it doesn’t have to be.
Sure, there’s Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano (known in the US as “Parmesan”), Pecorino Romano, and Provolone. But there’s a whole world of Italian cheeses beyond even Asiago, Ricotta, and Mascarpone. Here are five Italian cheeses you need to know now.
This cow’s milk cheese is an Alpine cheese, similar to Gruyère, Emmental (better known as “Swiss cheese”), and Comté. Fontina comes from the Val d’Aosta in the Italian alps, where it has been made since the 12th Century. Fontina is a semi-soft cheese that is aged for about three months. It is creamy and smooth, dense and firm, and offers a mild, nutty flavor. This cheese goes well on a meat and cheese platter, but it is also great in fondues, grilled-cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and other heavy, hot dishes.
Grana Padano is very similar to Parmesan. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and comes from the Po River Valley in Northern Italy.
Grainy textured but smooth on the tongue, Grana Padano is a hard cheese that is aged for 9 to 16 months. Its flavor is both savory and sweet, with a nuttiness to it and a fruity aroma. Named for its grainy texture (“Grana”), Grana Padano goes well in anything you’d use Parmesan for—especially pastas and salads.
Made from a blend of cow, goat, and sheep milks, La Tur is a delectable soft cheese in the brie family. It comes from Alba in the Alta Langa wine-growing region of Piedmont, in northwestern Italy. La Tur is creamy and fluffy, with a buttery, grassy flavor. It comes in small, round pots and is best left out until it becomes soft before eating. Best spread on bread or crackers, this cheese pairs well with fruit, nuts, and cured meats.
Another cheese from Piedmont, Robiola can be made from cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk—or even a combination of two or three milks. It is a soft-ripened cheese with an edible rind. This square pat of cheese is pale-colored, creamy, and rich. It is mild and delicate, and goes well with bread and charcuterie. It is also delicious alone, with a drizzle of honey across the top.
Robiola isn’t the only square cheese on this list—Taleggio is square as well. This cow’s milk cheese is smear-ripened on wooden boards seasonally in the fall and winter months, and it takes six to 10 weeks to mature. Tangy but mild, with a pungent aroma and a creamy texture, this cheese smells stronger than it tastes. It is best served at room temperature. Tallegio goes best with bread and charcuterie, but like Fontina it is also good for melting.
Whether you head in to Vero Amore to try some Fontina on our Bruschetta, say hello to old favorites like Mozzarella, Provolone, and Parmesan on many of our dishes, or keep your eyes peeled for Taleggio or Robiola on our cheese platters (depending on the season), we hope you’ll tantalize your taste buds by trying out some of these tasty Italian cheeses.