Man cutting into a block of Parmesan cheese

The Top 5 Italian Cheeses

Cheese is comforting, uplifting, and a central ingredient in many Italian dishes. There is truly nothing like digging into a warm pasta dish topped with a smattering of shredded cheese, or digging into a creamy plate of cheese topped with fruit, nuts, and a healthy serving of extra virgin olive oil. If you’re just getting familiar with the basics of Italian cooking, you’re likely wondering what the best cheeses are and how to utilize them. Below are five of the most popular cheeses in Italy, along with some of the most ideal ways to incorporate them into your cooking.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

This is probably one of the most essential and popular cheeses in all of Italy. True Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged for two years and is only made between the months of April and November. This allows the cows to get the most nutritious diet possible. Upon tasting, you’ll notice this cheese is salty, nutty, and a bit sharp. These flavors work well with pasta dishes, salads, and soups. You will commonly find Parmigiano-Reggiano in conjunction with Pecorino-Romano for dishes like carbonara.

Mozzarella di Bufala

Made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, Mozzarella di Bufala has a salty-sweet flavor with a soft bite. In comparison to mozzarella made from cow’s milk, this mozzarella is much softer, with a tangier, near-sour taste. This cheese works well in a Caprese salad, but can also be melted on top of a crisp chicken cutlet and topped with a San Marzano tomato sauce. Mozzarella di Bufala originates from Naples, making it a special purchase in the US if you can get your hands on it!

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola, otherwise known as bleu cheese, ranges in flavor from sweet (dolce) to aged and spicy (piccante). It is grassy and funky, with either a crumbly or softer texture. Historically, gorgonzola got its blue color from natural penicillium in the caves where it was aged. Now, the blue color comes from a Penicillium glaucum injection. Gorgonzola is great on salads, and it is also a lovely topping for steaks. Consider creating a gorgonzola crust on the steak to make every bite super flavorful.

Marscapone

When talking about Italian cheeses, you can’t leave out mascarpone. You’ll find mascarpone cheese to have a sweet flavor, and soft, buttery texture. If you’ve ever eaten tiramisu, then you’ve absolutely blessed your tastebuds with mascarpone. You can also use this cheese as a spread for fruit and bread, and you can use it as a substitute for ricotta or Greek yogurt.

Taleggio

Originating from northern Italy in Valtaleggio, this cow’s milk cheese is a stracchino cheese, which means it is produced in September to give the cheese a super soft texture. Just like many other Italian cheeses, Taleggio is a protected designation of origin cheese. It can only be made in Piedmont, Veneto, and Lombardy. Boasting an edible red rind with a mild, fruity flavor, this cheese is great for enjoying on its own or added to dishes like risotto. Feel free to spread this cheese across crackers and bread with a light topping of fig jam for the ultimate snack.

Visit Nico for The Best Brunch in Boston

When dining at Nico, you’ll enjoy fresh ingredients, thoughtfully prepared dishes, and an Italian-esque ambiance. We are open for dinner Wednesday through Friday, and are also available for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Come visit us for our incredible Monkey Bread, delectable Lobster Benedetto, and custom cocktail trees. Make your reservation today!

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