If you're a fan of Italian food, it probably goes without saying that you're a big fan of cheese. It's found in a multitude of dishes in every Italian restaurant and we're hoping it stays that way. Cheese is derived from milk but comes in such a wide variety of forms that it's difficult to know where to start when talking about it. Proteins and fats from sheep, cows, buffalos and goats are all used. There's white cheeses, blue cheeses, soft cheeses and hard ones - plus these days, there are even dairy-free versions. If you're into a range of different textures, colours, flavours and scents then you've come to the right place. We're showing you where your favourite Italian cheeses came from and where you can find them today.
In Italian, "ricotta" itself just means recooked. That's because the cheese is given additional fermentation and then added to acidified whey, which is then heated to near boiling. But enough with the technical stuff, all you need to know is that this creates the great tasting, creamy, white, sweet curds that we know and love. It goes really well in salads and on pizzas, and we love it in pasta dishes too. But at Salvis in Manchester, the simple but scrumptious Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta is our top pick for ricotta richness. It's everything you're hoping for and more.
Arguably Italy's most quintessential and famous cheese, producers here in the UK have a lot to live up to. Equally at home on pizzas as it is on pasta or even on its own, mozzarella is versatile, delicious and so much more. We're obsessed with the texture - soft, moist and stringy - that goes with just about everything. In recent years we're finding that the fried food trend is catching up with it - take the incredible Frittelle di Riso that can be found at Olive Grove in Canterbury. For those less familiar with the Italian language, that's basically mozzarella fritters, fried and served with a surprisingly complementary and addictive orange sauce.
Asiago cheese is a cow's milk white cheese from Italy's Veneto and Trentino regions that can assume very different textures depending on how it's been aged. At Vini Italiani in London's Covent Garden, their Rustic Grilled Melties are an asiago dream. Meat-eaters have to try the Traditional Focaccia - you won't regret it. Home-made bread is filled with asiago and "cotto" (cooked) ham - or, for a vegetarian option, you can try it with just tomato instead. Whichever you choose, the cheese melts in your mouth just the way we like it.
4. Parmigiano Reggiano
This cheese is the original parmesan and, as a protected name, the only one entitled to bear the proper title. It's a hard, granular cheese that can be used to enhance just about everything. We think you should see for yourself, so go all out and order an entire block to use whenever you want. La Fromagerie in London offers you this chance: their version comes direct from a farmhouse dairy in the prime grazing areas around Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. That means it's authentic as can be - none of that inferior stuff!
We know it's kinda cheesy, but we love you! Which is why we're making all these cheesy dishes and more available on Deliveroo.