Italy is a country known for having some of the world’s most amazing cheeses. Its great variety of cheeses, from the familiar soft cheeses such as mozzarella and harder varieties like Parmesan, as well as some types that you might be less familiar with. These Italian cheeses all vary quite a lot, both in texture and hardness, as well as in the type of milk used. Moreover they are paired with many dishes to add depth and richness which brings out some of the best flavors in the world.

Italian cheeses

With every region in the country of Italy producing their own specialty cheeses, and over 400 hundred varieties from which to choose, it’s easy to get lost in the delicious world of Italian cheese. However there are a few stand-out kinds of cheese you need to remember.

To make it easy for you, we’ve listed all our favourite Italian cheeses below. It’s time to get to know some more classic Italian cheeses.

Italian cheeses: varieties and uses

Italian cuisine without cheese can not. When it comes to Italian cuisine, cheese is an ingredient of extremely high importance. From creamy ricotta-filled lasagna to freshly grated Parmigiano on top of a steaming plate of pasta, cheese is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes Italian cuisine so deliciously crave-worthy. Here are some stellar, beloved Italian cheeses that ought to be part of your repertoire.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Considered to be among the world’s top quality cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is made with raw, semi-skimmed milk from cows grazing on fresh grass and hay. In addition, it has a hard, gritty texture and its flavors range from nutty to robust and slightly piquant, depending on how long the cheese had matured.

Parmigiano Reggiano

It is also referred to as “parmesan” in the United States, or sometimes Parmigiano-Reggiano, which refers to one of the most popular production areas (Parmigiano refers to the Parma region; Reggiano refers to the Reggio Emilia area).

Although there are many types of cheese in Italy, Parmigiano is the most respected. The Italians add it to everything – pasta, sauces, dressings and soups, even in desserts such as parmesan with blueberries, for example. In addition, Parmigano-Reggiano tastes excellent with fruit, wine, crackers, or sprinkled on rice.

Mozzarella Cheese

This is perhaps one of the most popular Italian cheeses, particularly because of its place of honor on top of one of the world’s favorite foods: pizza.  It is a fresh, soft, stretched curd cheese, made with whole cow’s milk. Moreover its name comes from the word “mozza’ which means to cut. This name refers to the slicing of the milk curd during the process.

Mozzarella has a high moisture content and is most often used for pizza, lasagna or in a Caprese salad with tomato and basil. Due to the fact that it has a fragrant aroma of fresh milk and a delicate creamy flavor, Mozzarella is traditionally paired with light white wines.

We feature mozzarella cheese in many of our dishes such as Chicken Maximo, Chicken Breast sautéed with garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes in a white wine sauce, and then topped with mozzarella cheese served with spaghetti and Villa Salad, which features lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, olives and mozzarella cheese.

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola

This veined, blue cheese comes from unskimmed cow’s milk. Depending on its age, this Italian cheese is available in two varieties. Matured for about two months, the softer, mellower dolce (which is sweet) and the sharper Piccante (also known as Naturale, Montagna or Mountain), which is more intense and aged for over a year. Moreover all gorgonzola is wonderfully garlicy and peppery.

Gorgonzola is often melted into risotto in the final stages of cooking but it is also popular with short pasta like penne or rigatoni, as opposed to long varieties of pasta such as spaghetti and linguine. It’s such a bold cheese, it’s often served in antipasto form, simply as an appetizer with crackers or bread. Combine with fresh fruit for the perfect pre-dinner course.

Pecorino Romano

This salty, hard cheese has a strong taste. Pecorino actually refers to a whole family of cheeses, which are all made from sheep’s milk. Moreover the name “pecorino” simply means “ovine” or “of sheep” in Italian.

It is most commonly used grated over pasta, soup and salad as a slightly sharper tasting alternative to Parmesan. In the same way it is used to make the legendary Pasta Cacio e Pepe. It’s also excellent with fava beans and red-wines that are full-bodied.

Mascarpone

Mascarpone cheese

This cheese comes from cow’s milk and originated in the Lombardy region of Southern Italy. Moreover it’s fresh, mild, and spreadable. Its texture can be creamy, or buttery, depending on the production process, while the flavors are lemony, sweet, full, and buttery.

It is an essential ingredient in the preparation of desserts such as cheesecake, zabaglione, and tiramisu. Also It is a substitute for butter or Parmesan cheese to help thicken and enrich risotto dishes. It pairs best with brandy, espresso, and chocolate. Although it can also be used in savory dishes, accompanied by mustard, fresh herbs, or anchovies. 

Ricotta Cheese

The name of this fresh cheese means “recooked. Ricotta is a soft cheese made from the whey left over from production of various other cheeses. It is often a combination of different animal milks such as sheep, cow, goat, and buffalo milk.

In addition, the cheese is low in fat, creamy and has a white, lumpy and grainy appearance. The shape, texture and weight might vary, depending on the milk used in the process, but it usually has a conical shape achieved by the usage of fuscella – a traditional container in which the cheese is placed after skimming in order to drain. 

Ricotta is light delicate and also a popular ingredient in Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes, cannoli, cookies, etc. In addition, it’s often used for cream sauces and a variety of baked dishes.

Ricotta cheese is an important part of the menu; you can enjoy it in our Sausage Calzone dish, which features ricotta and mozzarella.

Taleggio

Taleggio is a semi-soft cheese created from cow’s milk. This semi-soft cheese is from Val Taleggio in Lombardy, hence the name Taleggio. Also it’s a pungent cheese with a white interior. The rind is customarily pinkish-grey.   

It’s definitely one of the smellier of the Italian cheeses, although it has a surprisingly mild flavour with a fruity tang that you might not be expecting. Depending on it’s age, taleggio cheese can range from mild to pungent in flavor.  Taleggio can be eaten with radicchio or rucola salads, with spices and tomato on bruschetta, or melted into risotto or on polenta.

Asiago

It is a popular Italian cheese that changes texture the longer its aged. When it’s fresh it’s smooth, and then it advances to crumbly as it ages. It is a cow’s milk  cheese, first produced in  Italy. In addition, it has a subtle nutty aroma and a rich piquant taste.

Sometimes referred to as ‘the poor man’s Parmesan’. Creamy cow’s milk from the Vicenza province makes Asiago. This cheese pairs well with certain meats and breads and is a popular snack. Asiago pairs with many foods and drinks but extra aged Asiago matches well with deli ham, crackers, green olives, and toasted bread.

Burrata

Burrata refers to sacks of mozzarella which are filled with cream, giving it a unique texture. It’s an artisan cheese from the Puglia region of Southern Italy, especially the provinces of Bari and Barletta-Andria-Trani.

Moreover the cheese is made by hand with cow’s milk, rennet, and cream. The result was a true delicacy with the creamiest interior and a rich flavor of fresh milk, which very quickly became extremely popular. Eat it at room temperature and goes well with crusty bread, prosciutto, spaghetti, salads, and fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

Provolone

This cow’s milk cheese originates in the Po Valley region of Northern Italy, specifically Veneto and Lombardy. It’s a pale yellow semi-hard cheese with a firm and grainy texture. In addition, Provolone has a pleasant aroma and a buttery, mild, spicy, sweet, sharp, or tangy taste.

It has two forms. The first, Provolone Piccante, ages for over 4 months and has a sharp taste. The second is Provolone Dolce, and it ages for around 2 to 3  months. It has a sweet taste. Another Calabrian favorite, Provolone can be eaten young or, like Pecorino, it can age and become more flavorful. In addition, Provolone pairs well with aged and full-bodied red wines. It’s often served with homemade breads, flatbreads, and chutney.

Try it at Villa Allen in our Antipasto Salad, which features lettuce, tomato, black olives, peppers, ham, salami, and provolone cheese.

What’s your favorite Italian cheese?

It’s no secret that cheese is a huge part of Italian food’s inherent deliciousness. If you’re interested in getting a variety of authentic Italian dishes (and cheeses!), please come visit us at Villa Allen. We take pride in the way Italian cheeses can compliment nearly any dish and bring out flavors that leave our customers satisfied. Moreover we invite you to take your time sampling your way through the menu, enjoying every bite. You can enjoy an assortment of local cheese, wine, liquor and even coffee with us. Call us today to know more about our food!

ABOUT ITALIAN VILLA RESTAURANT:

We are one of the premier Italian Restaurants in Allen, TX, offering home-made
traditional Italian cuisine.  Come visit us today at: 121-B N. Greenville Allen, TX
75002, Phone: 972-390-2189.

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