Italy may be most well-known for pasta, sauces, and rich meat dishes, but the country has a long history of great cheese too. As a matter of fact, Italy is the birthplace of some of the most popular Bello Italian Deli cheeses in the world, including, of course, Parmigiano-Reggiano, also known as the “king of all cheeses.”
A sheep’s milk from Tuscany, Pecorino Toscano can be aged for a few months or longer than a year. While dry, it tends to be quite oily and, depending upon aging, can be aromatic and complex in its flavor profile.
Born of Southern Italy’s Basilicata region, provolone is a cow’s milk cheese that can now be found throughout the country. Like all other cheeses, aging it a few months leaves it sweeter and softer but aging it more than a year sharpens and deepens its flavor.
Typically aged roughly six months, this cow’s milk cheese hails from the Lombardy region of Italy. It is among the more rank—read, “stinkier”–cheeses, presenting a nuttier profile than most cheeses. It can also be salty and beefier, and even a bit tart. It is most often a softer kind of cheese great for melting into polenta or for crustini.
A soft cheese, Fontina is made in several regions of Italy. Made from young cow’s milk, it is then aged at least three months to result in a softer, fragrant, fruity—and occasionally bold—cheese that is quite similar to the French gruyere.
MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA
Traditionally made from buffalo milk, “buffalo mozarella” is now often made from cow’s milk too, and is common to many dairies across the world. Because of these varieties, you will want to confirm its region of production if you want the authentic stuff. This cheese should be eaten fresh—preferably wherever it is made—because that is when it is most flavorful. Store it at room temperature to retain this freshness.
Another sheep’s milk, this cheese was first made in the Middle Ages, mostly in the high plains throughout Italy’s northeastern-most region, from where the cheese gets its name. Of course, asiago is now made from cow’s milk, throughout Italy and can be aged as little as two weeks and for as long as nearly a year. Mild in flavor at its youngest, aged asiago can be more robust.
Originating in the region of Lombardy, this cheese is made from cow’s milk using one of two methods. First, it can be made soft—which offers a sweeter and more mellow flavor—or can be aged and drier—to give a more intense, even slightly bitter flavor.