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5 European DOP Cheeses from Italy to Try

5 European DOP Cheeses from Italy to Try

Having a hard time choosing from the over 400 cheeses we have at our salumi and formaggi counter? Start with these five must-try Italian cheeses, from the iconic and aged to the semi-soft and alpine.

It's hard to narrow down the best Italian cheeses, but our partners at AOPAgriform are expert in finding the cream of the crop. AOPAgriform is an association of producer organizations, partnering with some of the most important dairy cooperatives of the Northeastern part of Italy. The cheeses produced by AOPAgriform and its dairy partners are made using milk from specific Italian territories, collected by thousands of member farmers.

Made with amore in the heart of Europe, each of the below DOP cheeses is made according to specific regional traditions and in select areas of Italy (brush up on what the DOP certification means here). Whether served as part of an antipasto platter or grated into your favorite dishes, each cheese represents the best of Italian cheesemaking traditions.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO DOP

Known as the "King of Cheese," Parmigiano Reggiano DOP is produced in Emilia-Romagna in the hilly and mountainous areas between the Po and Tyrrhenian rivers, with milk from heritage breed cows that feed exclusively on locally grown forage. Select breeds, like the Rossa Reggiana and the Vacca Bruna, produce milk that is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and casein, which make it ideal for the production of a Parmigiano Reggiano with an intense aroma and distinct, brothy flavor. Sure, you can grate this cheese over any pasta – but we'd recommend doing as the Italians do and breaking off large chunks to savor on their own with a glass of wine.

What to make: Pasta con Crema di Parmigiano Reggiano

Grana Padano wheel of cheese

GRANA PADANO DOP

Can't get enough crumbly, complex aged cheese? Keep your formaggio tasting tour going with Grana Padano DOP. With a recipe that dates back to Cistercian monks in middle ages in the Po River Valley, Grana Padano DOP is a staple in Italian cuisine. With a consistent straw color, grainy structure, and nutty flavor, every wheel of Grana Padano DOP is made with semi-skimmed, unpasteurized milk from cows raised on a controlled diet of fresh or stored forage and greens, which can only be sourced in the legally designated area.

What to make: Risotto al Tartufo Nero

Wheel of Asiago cheese with grapes

ASIAGO DOP

Next, move from hard aged cheeses toward something a bit softer with Asiago DOP. A cow's milk cheese produced in the Alpine plateaus of northern Italy, this soft and compact cow’s milk cheese produced in the Altopiano di Asiago (Asiago plateau) in Northern Italy. At Eataly, we carry the "Mezzano” version of this cheese, meaning it is aged for four to six months. With a fragrant and sweet taste, this alpine cheese pairs well with Speck IGP.

What to make: Crostini con Asiago, Speck e Miele

Wheel of montasio cheese

MONTASIO DOP

A table cheese produced exclusively in Friuli Venezia Giulia and northeastern Veneto, Montasio DOP is named after the group of mountains between the Resia Valley and Canale del Ferro. This cheese boasts an aromatic bouquet and fruity, grassy notes. This cheese was first made by monks from the milk of cows that graze in the foothills of the Alps. Hundreds of years later, the “recipe” is almost the same and earned its DOP status in 1986, cementing the production methods. After being brined and salted, Montasio is aged for a minimum of 60 days (and up to more than 18 months), allowing the flavors to intensify over time.

What to make: Frico Friulano

Piave cheese platter

PIAVE DOP

This compact, eyeless cheese takes its name from the river in the Belluno province, just north of Venezia. This hard cheese is produced following traditional methods, using pasteurized cow's milk. This cheese has a sweet and intense flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. This Mezzano (medium aged) cheese boasts a slightly thicker rind with a pale yellow inside.

What to make: the ultimate antipasto platter

Celebrate Italian DOP cheeses this month with AOPAgriform at Eataly! Shop online or in-store and bring home all five to get a taste of these European excellencies.

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*The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.