Pizza, a beloved dish around the world, finds its roots deeply embedded in Italian culinary traditions, particularly through the variety of cheeses that top this delightful meal. Let’s explore some of the authentic Italian cheeses that not only enhance the flavour of pizza but also carry rich histories and unique characteristics.

Mozzarella: The Staple of Pizza Cheeses

Mozzarella

Mozzarella, the quintessential pizza cheese, is prized for its mild flavour and superb meltability. Originating from southern Italy, particularly from the Campania region, this cheese has a history that dates back to the 12th century.

Traditionally made from the milk of Italian water buffalo (though now commonly made with cow’s milk), it’s celebrated for its soft, moist texture and creamy taste​.

Buffalo Mozzarella: Creamy and Rich

Buffalo Mozzarella

A special variant, Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania, offers a richer taste and creamier texture than the standard version.

This cheese is made from the milk of Italian buffalo and is soaked in brine to enhance its flavour, making it a luxurious addition to any pizza​.

Scamorza: Smoky and Versatile

Scamorza Cheese

Scamorza, another cherished Italian cheese, is known for its distinctive smoky flavour and firmer texture.

This cheese is essentially mozzarella that has been aged and smoked, lending a robust flavour profile that stands out on any pizza​.

Mascarpone: Silky Smooth

Mascarpone cheese

While not a traditional choice for pizza, Mascarpone can add a unique twist to gourmet pizza varieties.

Known for its creamy and rich texture, this cheese is more commonly used in desserts, but when used sparingly on pizza, it adds a silky, luxurious quality​.

Provolone: Sharp and Full-Bodied

Provolone Cheese

Provolone, with its origins in southern Italy, is a semi-hard cheese known for its sharp and tangy flavour. It’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a stronger, more pronounced cheese taste on their pizzas.

Provolone is aged for several months to develop its full flavour, making it ideal for enhancing the taste profiles of various pizza toppings​.

Pecorino Romano: Bold and Salty

Pecorino romano

This hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk is another robust option for pizza. Originating from Rome, Pecorino Romano is known for its bold flavour.

It’s often grated over pizzas for an extra punch of saltiness and flavour​.

Ricotta: Delicate and Creamy

Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta offers a lighter, creamier texture for pizza toppings. Made from the whey left over from the production of other cheeses, Ricotta is mild and slightly sweet, making it an excellent base for white pizzas or a topping in combination with stronger flavours​.

For those who enjoy a bit of tang and a hint of blue cheese, Gorgonzola is the perfect choice. This veined Italian blue cheese offers a sharp, slightly pungent flavour, which pairs beautifully with a variety of toppings like figs, caramelized onions, or prosciutto​.

Aged Asiago is another fabulous option, offering a more robust and nutty flavour compared to younger versions. It melts well and is ideal for adding a bit of depth to the cheese blend on your pizza​.

Taleggio: Soft and Melty

Taleggio

Lastly, Taleggio, with its soft texture and strong aroma, melts beautifully, creating a gooey, decadent layer of cheese that complements stronger flavours like mushrooms and onions on pizza​.

Each of these cheeses not only adds distinctive flavours and textures to pizza but also brings with it a slice of Italian cheese-making history. Whether opting for the stretchy allure of Mozzarella or the tangy punch of Gorgonzola, these cheeses promise to elevate your pizza from a mere dish to a gourmet experience.

Written by Matt Maxted

More by Matt Maxted