The Perfect Cheese for Pizza

image of chef putting cheese on the best pizza in Miami.

You wouldn’t find much disagreement if you made the claim that pizza was the most popular food in the United States. Maybe chicken wings, French fries or hamburgers could be argued but pizza would be near the top of every argument. Generating over $32 billion in annual revenue, pizza brings in an extremely large amount of revenue. With so much competition in the marketplace of pizzeria’s trying to get their slice of the “pie”, what makes a good pizza stand out? Toppings can be unique and the crust needs to be perfectly cooked but perhaps the part of the pizza that is unanimously loved is the cheese. Just thinking about a perfectly melted layer of cheese is enough to make most pizza fans salivate. Even cheeseless pizza would be near the top of the favorite food list. There seems to be more choices of cheese than there are colors of paint in Home Depot, so how do you know which makes the best topping for pizza.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular cheese choices and what makes each one great for pizza in their own way.

Provolone– this semi-hard Italian cheese is great on its own or paired with another mild cheese such as mozzarella. However, provolone can be a distinctly sharp tasting cheese, depending on how long it has been aged for. Young provolone will be much softer and lighter in taste than older provolone.

Cheddar– hard and sharp describes cheddar’s texture and taste to a T. Most people associate cheddar with macaroni and cheese rather than pizza but it is a very common cheese that is incorporated into pizza cheese blends. Due to cheddar’s small elasticity, it won’t bubble, brown and blister as easily as mozzarella will but it will add a dark orange tint to the pie. Cheddar is often found on specialty pizzas like buffalo chicken, cheeseburger, and chicken/bacon/ranch.

Parmesan– while in the US, most places will use Parmesan cheese but true makers of traditional Italian pizza’s will use Parmigiano-Reggiano, the King of Cheese. Both kinds of cheese offer a distinct finishing taste to the top of the pizza. Since it has a delicate taste and is very dry, it should never be blended or baked in the oven because the umami (flavor) will be ruined.

Gouda– rich and unique are the words often used to describe this Dutch cheese. This cheese is often used to compliment the flavors of barbecued meats such as chicken or pork on pizzas.

Goat– goat cheese is very sweet and creamy and is being found more and more on pizzas that utilize toppings such as caramelized onions, figs, peppers and balsamic vinegar. While it doesn’t melt and string out like mozzarella, goat cheese does soften up and provides a great flavor to each bite.

Ricotta– typically, ricotta is used to compliment white sauce pizza and mixed with mozzarella. Toppings that are commonly seen are chicken, shrimp and broccoli.

Mozzarella– bet you thought I was going to forget the most important member of any well-made pizza. Well, mozzarella is the perfect cheese for pizza due to a variety of factors like:

  • Minimally processed
  • Light and creamy
  • Fresh, mild taste
  • Browning properties
  • Low or High-moisture
  • Varying fat content

The moisture level and fat content are surprisingly important for creating the perfect pizza. Low-moisture mozzarella comes in the varying fat content (whole milk or part-skim) that affects how it melts. Low moisture has a saltier taste and melts far easier than its high-moisture counterpart.

The high-moisture mozzarella cheese is best used for traditional Neapolitan pizzas because it helps create that soggy, droopy slice that patrons love. A staple in the traditional topping combinations such as the Margherita, which includes fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Ironside Kitchen in Miami serves up the best pizza in of Miami and South Florida. From classic Neapolitan combinations to house crafted specialties, our Neapolitan pizzas are a must try. 

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