Pizza cheese 201

As a ‘sister’ thread to the dough 201 thread, let’s all place those gems of ideas, thoughts and knowledge here.

I mostly use sliced provolone with great results. I place it under the sauce and it helps prevent soggy dough. The edges get nice char and crispness which I like. Some variations are the fresh mozzerella, which works best in smallish chunks, and sliced mozzerella, which I really enjoy. There are some other italian cheeses on my short list of experimentals: one is a cross between mozz and provolone, which the name escapes me now.


I’ve gone through 3 types of motz before I settled on the Costco dual tubes. The first was a local retired physician who produces his own for local sale (too wet), the second grocery store low fat (too dry), and then the Costco that has the right amount of moisture. You can drain the cheese overnight to rid it of some moisture. I’ve found that a combination of the dry low fat sprinkled on, then add the fresh on top is a good combo. This is similar to what Dom DeMarco does at DiFara pizza, considered by most NY’ers to be the best slice.

Growing up, I am pretty much certain that my favorite local pizzeria used a combo of mozz and parmiagiana that was dry. I have not found anything like that. I had not really thought about using provolone instead of mozz, but I have been using Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio, which has parmigiana, provolone, asiago and fontina, and it is fairly close to my childhood memory.

Fresh mozz was a disaster, almost certainly because of the time needed to cook the pie in my oven. I am going to use a firmer fresh mozz, and see if that works better.

Mike, if you think of the name of the mozz/provolone cheese, please let me know, as that sounds interesting.

Sure, Jeff.
I will pick some up today.

Thanks, I have been disappointed with the commercial cheese mixes that I can find in the supermarkets.

Hey Nick, do yourself a favor and stop into DePalo and Sons in Shell Beach some day. They hand stretch mozz there… I know they don’t make the cheese base - but it’s still tasty stuff.

If your dough is getting soggy from the sauce then you probably have too much moisture in the sauce. You might want to try a sauce with a higher specific gravity. Make the sauce more flavorful so you need less. Also by putting the cheese underneath the sauce you are robbing yourself of the cheese getting gratinee’d which adds those delicious carmel flavors to the pizza

Kara, that’s the fresh stuff I described and found to be too wet. It’s made by Dr. Tedone a local retired physician. Even in my WFO at 800 degrees I found it to be a little wet in the center, hence the Costco cheese. And when you’re in DePalo check out my EVOO, Casa Pau Hana Olive Farm (shameless plug).

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Costco’s Bel-Gioioso fresh mozzarella works better than any other mozzarella I’ve tried in 15+ years of home pizza experimentation. I don’t even drain it overnight; I open the tube about twenty minutes before I need to use it, and wrap the mozzarella log in a paper towel for a few minutes. Then I slice the cheese thickly and put it back in the fridge until seconds before it needs to go on the pizza so the cheese is good and cold. Final step is to do as Mike P says-- tear the fresh mozz into chunks and toss them on to the pizza. Depending on what I have handy, I like both parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano grated (not shredded), especially around the edges.

Like Mike, I also like to put my crushed tomatoes on top of the cheese, although if I want a decent char in my oven, I have to pre-cook the dough with a little bit of tomato on it so the top doesn’t dry out. That was Justin Wells’ tip, and it allowed me to (finally!) get well done crust w/o overcooking my mozzarella.

Jeff, have you tried Costco’s fresh mozzarella logs, as Nick described? They are not packed in a significant amount of water or brine and do much better in a home oven with minimal drying beforehand. Provolone is perfectly good in a midwestern-style pizza (I like those too) but it’s the wrong flavor profile for a proper margherita IMO.

Gene, I do this under the sauce thing because I too enjoy the results. No sogginess has prompted me. I overlap the edges a bit and get great gratinee’d edges. Maybe too much for somes taste here…

Mike, Nice looking pie.

crust looks top notch. but it looks too cheesy for me, but i like very light cheese on my pizza. Btw, the gratinee is perfect in my opinion: Not too much at all.

Well while you’re at DePalo, check out our frozen flatbread pizzas :slight_smile:" onclick=";return false;

Do you use local olives? If so, we should try it out at the restaurant…

I like provolone best. The sharp flavor and saltiness is hard to beat.

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I’ll have to try the Costco. I assume that you mean the Belgiosa. I agree that the other cheese is wrong for a margherita, but don’t usually make a margherita. Thanks for the tip.

I believe this is what she is talking about:

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Does it have to be Italian cheese? I don’t want my pizza to be the same all the time so we use gruyere, gouda, kasseri, aged provolone, various blues, asiago, pretty much any cheese that’s not going to be too runny, and I usually throw on some romano as well. Goat works too.

no way dude! a couple of my favorites:

  • sans sauce with blue cheese, leeks, mushrooms, fresh thyme and a sprinkling of truffle salt. tasty.
  • sans sauce with feta, roasted red bell, olive, spinach, kalamata, and garlic oil
  • sans sauce with smoked swiss, fresh corn, poblanos, roasted red pepper, green onion, cotija, cilantro and lime
  • tomato with gorgonzola, parsley and garlic