Named after Parma, Italy, the city it originated from, Parmesan is the most well known of the hard cheese family. It has a sharp, nutty flavor that intensifies with age. In Italy, it is often served as a dessert with fresh figs, walnuts and sweet red wine. In America, parmesan is mainly used for grating on pasta, salads and pizza.
Parmesan can be purchased in two basic forms: (1) fresh, and (2) dehydrated or dried. The richest flavor comes from the fresh variety. Parmesan is light yellow and has a hard, granular texture. It is aged over 10 months. For smooth sauces, buy block parmesan or freshly grated 100% cheese. Some commercially grated parmesan blends contain anti-caking ingredients that prevent the cheese from incorporating into sauces. Parmesan can be used as a table cheese, either in a shaker or portion control packet, shaved over salads and pastas and sprinkled on pizza.
Romano is also named for its area of origin, the countryside surrounding Rome. Romano is another hard, grating-type cheese used on pizzas and pastas. It has a creamy white appearance and sharp, piquant flavor. Italian Romano, named Pecorino, is made from ewe’s milk, but domestic versions are made from cow’s milk which produces a milder flavor. Like parmesan, Romano comes in both fresh and dehydrated form. Fresh Romano has a higher moisture and fat content than parmesan and is aged for five months longer.
Operators looking to diversify flavor profiles in their pizzas and pasta dishes need look no farther than parmesan or Romano cheese. The question remains…parmesan or Romano? Which one is tastier and which one is best used on your pizza or pasta? Romano’s taste is stronger and it is saltier, making it a wonderful flavor-enhancing agent in soups, pasta dishes and pizza. Commonly paired with mozzarella, Romano gives pizza an extra punch. Not everyone enjoys the sharp, salty taste of Romano and may prefer a slightly milder parmesan. Whatever cheese you choose, your customers will definitely notice that there is something unique and more flavorful in your pizzas.