Italy’s Best Cheese: We Picked Some Of Our Favorite Formaggio

France, you’re not the only one who loves Italian cheeses. Not to forget the most well-known: Italy’s cheeses, from Asiago to Gorgonzola, Fontina to mozzarella, parmesan and provolone are all world-famous.

It’s not surprising that so many of Italy’s most beloved cheeses have been made DOP products. This is due to their exceptional quality, local production and traditional recipes. Here’s more information about Italy’s DOP foods, and what really means . You’ll find signs promoting local cheeses in historic cheese-producing areas (like “Homeof Fontina”)! As you travel through, Some Italian towns use the same tradition for more than 1,000 years.

It is important to always look out for the “DOP seal” when tasting Italian cheeses. This is the best way to ensure that you are getting the correct product. You’ll see why it’s so important to taste both the mozzarella from your local grocery store in America and the authentic Italian product. ).

These are our top picks for Italian cheeses!

Asiago cheese

Asiago cheese is one of our favourite Italian cheeses. Jon Sullivan. Photo

An Asiago cheese with a “products of the mountains” stamp will indicate that it was made at an elevation of 600m (1,968ft). This cheese is made from cow’s milk from Trentino and Veneto regions. It can be purchased fresh (called Asiago Pressato) for the best, smoothest, and sweetest flavor. The aged version (Asiago d’allevo) has a stronger flavor. For the best taste, go for the aged version (Asiago d’allevo). You want the best taste? Choose stravecchio. It can be aged for up two years.

You can try it in:Trentino, the Veneto, Verona and Trento.

Fontina cheese


Fontina. Foto by Luigi Chiesa

Fontina, a cow-milk cheese made from cows, is one of the main ingredients in fonduta (fondue). It’s a comfort food for cold mountain weather and has a semi-soft texture with strong, nutty flavors. We know that Europeans have enjoyed these cheeses for millennia thanks to their depiction in a fresco castle from 13th century on the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland.

You can try it in: The Valle d’Aosta is the Alps-ridden border area of Piedmont (France) and Switzerland.

Gorgonzola cheese


Gorgonzola. Photo by Rachel Black

This pungent cow’s milk cheese is easily recognized by its creamy texture and blue-green veins. Gorgonzola dulce (“sweet gorgonzola”) is milder in taste while gorgonzola picante (“spicy Gorgonzola”) is more spicy. The cheese’s beloved flavor comes from the bacteria that was added during production, as well the perfect cold, damp conditions which accelerate the aging process.

It’s not clear where Gorgonzola is from. However, some believe it was named after the town it was founded in the late 9th Century.

You can try it in:Piedmont, Lombardy (including Milan and Turin).

Mascarpone cheese


Tiramisu, an Italian specialty made with mascarpone, is a Tiramisu. Markus Mitterauer. Photo

The Lombardy cheese is made with just cream and citric acid. This is why it has a soft texture and a mild, complementary flavour. Mascarpone can be found in both sweet and savory dishes such as tiramisu or risotto. It can also be used with strawberries to make a sweet summer dessert.

You can try it in: The Lombardy region includes Milan.

Mozzarella cheese


One variety of mozzarella: Burrata Photo by Tomislav Medak

The cutting and spinning process that goes into making mozzarella soft, milky cheese are the secrets to its softness.

The most well-known varieties are buffalo mozzarella. This mozzarella is made with water buffalo’s milk to give it a creamy texture. fiordi latte ismade with fresh cow’s milk. mozzarella del sasso,is a pouch of mozzarella filled with cream and tied with an elastic band. They’re all delicious, no matter which variety you choose, provided you only try the original versions.

Use it in:Campania, southern Lazio and Naples.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Parmigiano reggiano. Photo by Dominik Hundehammer

Parmesan in English is commonly referred to as Parmigiano Reggiano. It gets better with time, much like wine. This cow’s-milk cheese is a passion for the Italians. Only the best quality cheeses get the DOP seal after a 12-month inspection. All other rinds are marked with lines to indicate lower quality. (Want more information about parmigiano-reggiano Check out our video below to see how it’s made! ).

Along with Grana Padano, Parmigiano is part of the Grana (hard cheeses) family. Although it has the same taste as Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is made in Lombardy and the producers have less control over the diets of the cows. This is why Parmigiano reggiano is the more expensive, finer cheese. It can be eaten as a single ingredient or grated on certain pastas in the country.

You can try it in: Parmigiano Reggiano, like the other popular cheeses, is also available throughout Italy. You’ll find Parmigiano Reggiano the closest to the source, especially in Emilia-Romagna.

Pecorino cheese


Pecorino pepato. Photo by Ji-Elle (Wikicommons)

This sheep’s milk cheese is Rome’s answer for Parmigiano, and often substituted for it. It matures quickly and has a strong taste. The highest quality Pecorino Romano is known for its salty taste and high quality. Check out this recipe for cacio e pepe.

You can also find pecorino Sardinia, Tuscany local specialties, and pecorino pepatowith freshly ground peppercorns if you want something zingy. These specialties can be served at the end of any meal with honey, jam, or fresh fruit. Sometimes, you’ll see it grated on certain pasta dishes.

Use it in:Lazio. Sardinia. Sicily. Tuscany.

Provolone cheese


Homemade provolone. Photo by Brian Boucheron

TThis semi-hard, full-fat cheese is made in northern Italy and Campania. It can be easily identified in a market or store by its large size and ability to mold into sausages with cords and pears. Provolone dolce has a milder flavor due to its young age. Provolone piccante has a richer, more piquant taste.

You can try it in:Naples. (Production still takes place in the mountains near Mount Vesuvius, near where provolone was born), and other areas in northern Italy.

Ricotta cheese


Red wine and Ricotta… The perfect combination!

Ricotta is perhaps the most versatile Italian cheese. It can be made with sheep, goat or buffalo milk. This mild cheese is slightly “cooked”, with a soft, grainy texture. It can even be enjoyed by people with milk allergies. The production process uses byproducts once casein has been removed. Ricotta can be found in desserts such as cannoli and savory pasta dishes with ricotta salta (smoked ricotta that has a hard texture with a salty flavor).

You can try it in: We love the ricotta salata from Sicily.

Taleggio cheese


Taleggio. Photo by Dominik Hundehammer (Wiki Commons).

This creamy, milk-based cheese, made from cow’s milk, is best when fresh and is best eaten right away. Its name comes from the Alps, where it was born. Taleggio is a Roman favorite, which has been around since Roman times. Cicero even wrote about it! Sometimes, fruit and spices are added to enhance the flavor.

You can try it in:Lombardy or the Italian Alps.

Continue reading: Salumi-A Guide to Italian Cured Meats