Italy is known for its amazing cuisine, including wine, pasta, and of course, pizza. And you might know about Parmesan, or more accurately, Parmigiano Reggiano, or perhaps Romano.
But perhaps that’s where your knowledge ends and you wish you knew more. Here is a list of amazing Italian cheeses that will broaden your horizons when it comes to Italian formaggio. Within the list will be tips here and there about how a particular cheese might be used and served.
1) Asiago. This is probably the third most well-known Italian cheese, next to Parmesan and Romano. Asiago is a hard cheese, and there are actually two types. One type is Asiago d’Allievo, and the other is Asiago grasso di monte, which is a younger and softer cheese.
Way to serve Asiago grasso di monte: Usually served at the table. Asiago d’Allievo, however, is more for grating.
2) Fontina. One of the more famous Italian cheeses, fontina is semi-hard, and many cheese aficionados continuously vote for fontina as a top favourite, thanks to its nutty flavour and creamy texture.
Way to serve fontina: Commonly thought of as a table cheese. However, it’s often used in a dish called Fonduta, and other similarly rich dishes.
3) Gorgonzola. Created in the same town of the same name in the Lombardy region, gorgonzola is one of Italy’s truly famous cheeses. Originally, the cheese was made in caves. However, thanks to modern technology, it’s made in factories with a little help from Penicillum gorgonzola.
4) Mascarpone. Many people look at this cheese and wonder how to serve it. Mascarpone, which originally comes from the Lombardy region, is considered a dessert cheese, and is often served with fruit and a small bit of sugar. On some occasions, people use liqueur to flavour this amazing soft cheese.
5) Mozzarella. Along with Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina, mozzerella is truly up there among people’s knowledge of Italian cheeses. It was originally made with buffalo milk, but more and more, people have been using cows’ milk, or even a mixture of the two.
If it is eaten fresh, it’s often done so with lots of whey. If not, then it can only be used for cooking, as the cheese is too dry.
6) Provolone. At some point, you might have heard of this particularly famous cheese, and have had it on sandwiches. If not, you’ll be interested to know that provolone has two types: young and mild (Provolone Dolce), and Provolone Piccante, which is strong and mature.
7) Ricotta. You might have seen this cheese in your latest lasagne. Ricotta is commonly made with sheep or cow’s milk, and is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Believe it or not, there are different kinds of ricotta, from fresh, to salted, to mature and dry. Though it may sound fancy, ricotta is fairly easy to obtain outside of Italy, either in specialty shops, or in regular grocery stores that have large cheese sections.
8) Taleggio. You’ll have to travel directly to Italy to eat this cheese. Created in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions in northern Italy, this style of cheese, one of several called Stracchino, is quite ancient, and is very quick to mature, so it’s not at all suitable for export. It’s quite soft and creamy, and tastes best when eaten fresh.
It’s safe to say Italy has a wide variety of cheeses to try. Some you might already have been familiar with before reading this list, such as Mascarpone, Parmesan and Asiago, and some you might not have known about, such as the Taleggio—and particularly that one since it cannot be exported to other countries. You’d have to make Taleggio the part of your next holiday to Rome.
But now that you know about which are served as a cheese course and which are used in dishes—or on top of them, in the case of Parmesan—you can now put your new knowledge to good use either fixing a dish by yourself for friends, or dining out with them, and impressing them with what you know.