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The ultimate guide to Italy’s most loved cheeses

The ultimate guide to Italy’s most loved cheeses

Emily Shaw

Italians love cheese. In fact, Italy has the largest variety of cheese in the world, with over 2,500 traditional kinds. Many of these hold protected status which means their authentic production, unique recipes and traditional names can’t be meddled with by other countries.

Many towns have been crafting world-famous cheese for centuries. For example, communities in the Aosta Valley first produced their renowned Fontina cheese in the 12th century. Now awarded protected status, this semi-soft cheese must always be made authentically, using unpasteurized milk from a single milking.

At Scarpetta, we use plenty of classic Italian cheeses in our recipes. Sourced from our country of origin, each cheese has a distinctive taste and texture to complement each pasta dish. 

Here’s a guide to our favourite cheeses from Italy - and what makes us so obsessed with them.

Scamorza

When we thought about which starters to add to the Scarpetta menu, Scamorza was a no-brainer. It’s not too dissimilar to mozzarella, just creamier and sweeter - making it a fitting precursor to the main event.

This cow’s milk cheese most famously originates from Apulia in Southern Italy. The cheese is shaped into two balls, which remain connected. It is then strung up and ripened for a fortnight - hence it’s name, which translates to ‘beheaded’ in Italian.

In our opinion, Scamorza tastes best when it’s melted and topped with crispy guanciale and pistachio crumbs. Find this recipe on our new starter menu and create an authentic Scamorza dish in just 10 minutes!

Mozzarella


Mozzarella is popular for a reason. And we love using it in our pasta dishes. 

This fresh, soft curd cheese is made using buffalo’s milk. Classically, it's used to balance out other flavours, such as the tomato in our Gnocchi Tomato Mozzarella.

This cheese originates from the region of Campania in Southwestern Italy. And we’re lucky to have it because it was originally a mistake...  It’s thought that mozzarella was first produced when cheese curds accidentally toppled into a pan of hot water in a Campanian cheese factory. 

Whether this is true or not, we’ve always been sold on those creamy, delicate flavours that complement authentic Italian recipes beautifully.

Pecorino


This variety is Rome’s response to Parmigiano Reggiano. Traditionally used in Roman recipes, this sheep’s milk cheese has an intense flavour, with a salty edge, that punches nicely through creamier dishes like the Rigatoni Carbonara

Pecorino is easy to digest and packed with energy - this is integral to its rich origin story. At first, the ancient Romans served the cheese at their banquets and formal events. However, it soon served a more fundamental purpose. 

The cheese was used as a staple for army rations. Pecorino was provided in daily rations to accompany bread and farro soup to help motivate and energise the soldiers.

And it holds up as a delicious cheese to eat alone, as well as within recipes.

Parmigiano Reggiano


Only the finest ingredients get the official stamp of protection when crafting Parmigiano Reggiano - known by many English speakers as Parmesan. It must be made from the highest quality cow’s milk to make sure it keeps that uniquely intense flavour.

This hard cheese is produced in Lombardy in Northern Italy. And it’s been around for a long time. The first record of Parmigiano Reggiano is about 900 years ago when Benedictine monks crafted the cheese as a way of extending the life of all the milk they were producing. It soon left Italy and become popular across Europe.

We garnish many of our pastas with Parmigiano Reggiano to lift the stronger flavours. Click each dish to find out of your favourites taste even better with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Ricotta


This is a controversial one, but we couldn’t leave it out. It’s controversial because it’s technically a curd and not a cheese. However, it acts like a cheese in plenty of our recipes, so we’re inclined to bend the rules.

The sweet and creamy ricotta curds balance out richer, savoury ingredients perfectly. It can be made from sheep, buffalo, cow or goat’s milk - which means it can be crafted in various regions of Italy, while still maintaining its authenticity.

We serve ricotta with tortelloni dishes, as the best way to balance out the pasta’s filling. Try the Tortelloni Aubergine Ricotta if you don’t believe us.

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