Recently, we ran down the fundamental cheeses that make pizza oh-so-very special. Mozzarella, Ricotta, and the vastly under-appreciated Provel bolster pizzas all around the world, but there are even more cheeses to explore.
Now that you’ve aced Pizza Cheese 101, it’s time to take things to the next level. Get out your notebooks and your tablecloths, because it’s time for Pizza Cheese 201:
You get an A if you can spell caciocavallo and an A+ if you can pronounce it correctly (“kah-ch’yoh-kah-VAH-loh”). But, if you can only manage to select the pizza topped with it when placing your next order, you’re still doing good in our book.
Italian for “cheese on horseback,” caciocavallo is tied together with a rope and hanged over a slab of wood to eliminate excess moisture and age. The end result is a cheese with a sharp and intense flavor, plus fruity undertones. It’s a popular go-to for wine connoisseurs looking to build the ultimate charcuterie board, but we think it’s an even better fit on pizza.
Caciocavallo is a brilliant counterpart to pies with fresh seasonal vegetables. Its saltiness also makes it a great sidekick for fresh mozzarella, which can be light on sodium. Give it a try at Los Angeles’ Pizzeria il Fico or New York’s Gnocco and thank us later.
Yes, truffle cream is as good as it sounds. Italians use truffle cream to elevate tagliatelle and sandwich shops such as Florence’s Osteria All’antico Vinaio use it as super condiment, but truffle cream is also gaining popularity as a divine topper for pizzas.
If you think pizza is addictive already, try your hand at having just one slice of a truffle-cream topped pie. The flavor here is strong, so just a few dollops will go a long way.
Thanks to Pizza Cheese 101, you have the 411 on Parmigiano-Reggiano. Still, we’d like to take a moment to shout out Asiago, a nutty and creamy cousin of Parmesan that can really make a pizza sing when used properly. If mozzarella is Beyoncé, then Asiago is a Kelly Rowland or a Michelle Williams, here to put your pie in perfect harmony.
Roberta’s Pizza in New York helped bring asiago to the forefront on its “Four Emperors” pie, where it helps to accent a spicy arrabbiata sauce. These days, asiago pies can be found coast-to-coast at pizzerias like Angelico (Washington, DC), The Pizza Gourmet (Providence, RI), Rosati’s (New Berlin, WI), LA Gourmet (Dallas, TX), and Marina Pizza & Pasta (San Francisco, CA).
Gorgonzola isn’t just for salads anymore. This super salty cheese is gaining popularity in the pizza world for its sharp bite and nutty aroma.
In salads, gorgonzola is often used to punch up thin slices of apples or pears. The same goes for pizza – the sweetness of fresh fruit can be counterbalanced by gorgonzola crumbles, putting the entire pie in sync. Pizzaiolos will also use a bit of gorgonzola on pies featuring cured meats such as prosciutto, but, fear not – the experts know how to keep the overall salinity in check.
Your Final Assignment
Congratulations! Between Pizza Cheese 101 and 201, you’ve accrued the knowledge necessary to put together the ultimate order. It’s time to take things from the classroom to the dining room and get the cheesy pie of your dreams.