Popular Italian Cheeses

The cuisine of Italy is widely celebrated around the world but the country is not only home to fabulous dishes; they are also simply known for their cheese too. In fact, it might be their cheese that helps to make their cultural dishes so unique and delicious.

What’s more, Italian cheese—as well as its most famed Bello Italian Deli dishes—are characteristic of the various regions of Italy.  Here are a few to help you understand the distinctions:

ASIAGO

A sheep’s milk cheese that originated during the Middle Age, Asiago was once mostly produced in the high plains of Italy’s northeastern region of Asiago. Like nearly all other types of cheese, it is now produced from cow’s milk and aged just about anywhere. It can be aged for just a few weeks for as long as a year and that, of course, can affect its flavor and aroma.

FONTINA

Fontina is a young cow’s milk cheese aged at least three months. It can be produced just about anywhere. This cheese is soft, fruity, and fragrant, almost like the French’s gruyere.

GORGONZOLA

Originating from the Lombardy region of Italy, gorgonzola is a cow’s milk cheese that can be made soft and mellow—with a sweeter flavor than many people realize—or the dry, aged way that lends to more intense, bitter flavor that most people characterize about this cheese.

MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA

Known, perhaps, more commonly as “buffalo mozzarella” this doughy white cheese is made from buffalo milk.  Or, rather, it used to be, traditionally. These days it is also often made from cow’s milk as well.

Buffalo mozzarella should be eaten fresh, and somewhat immediately after it is produced. As a matter of fact, you should never refrigerate true buffalo mozzarella as the refrigeration makes it lose its taste.  Once it is prepared it should rest at room temperature for at least a half an hour—when it reaches ultimate freshness—and then consumed right away.

PECORINO TOSCANO

From the name you should be able to discern that this cheese comes from Tuscany. It can be aged for a few months or for more than a year.  It is made from sheep’s milk and has a tendency to be a little oily and pungent.

PROVOLONE

Hailing from the Italian region of Basilicata, provolone is a cow’s milk cheese that is now common across the country—and a favorite across the world.  You can age it for only a few months or you can sharpen its flavor and wait almost an entire year.