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Pizza cheese

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When I was a kid, I remember pizza having cheese that really "tasted like cheese". When I bit into a slice at my childhood favorite place (Joe's in Brentwood, LI), the cheese would kind of stretch out and it was creamy and very assertively flavorful. As time has gone along, cheese on pizza has seemed to have become the antithesis of what what I remember from long ago. Can somebody explain to me what happened in the pizza cheese "industry" (if there is such a thing) and how it got so mediocre? Are there any "cheese standout" pizza places in the 5 boroughs or Long Island?

I've seen the posts that talk about "industrialized cheese" and such, but I'm looking to hear specifically what that means compared to "the good stuff".

Thanks.

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  1. BON JOURNO
    I live in Toronto so I can't help you with your "cheese standout" pizza places request.
    However, I once saw an interview with a winner of a BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA contest
    and he answered 'smoked provalone cheese' (a type of mozzerella) when asked what his secret ingredient was. I have tried making my pizzas with it and I agree that it adds a special taste to the pie and I will recommend it to you, xmen77leftfield (quite a handle you have).
    Bon appetito

    3 Replies
    1. re: fruglescot

      Buon giorno to you! If I'm making pizza at home, I'll use at least half provolone.

      I think there's been a general dumbing-down of flavor and food for the masses has become blander. Flavor is scary, apparently, unless it is enhanced by high fructose corn syrup.

      1. re: babette feasts

        You know, we recently tried a Rachel Ray recipe for Garlic & Herb pizza that calls for provolone and it was REALLY great. I was so skeptical about the provolone (and the grated lemon zest but it went perfectly with the fresh thyme sprinkled over the cheese) but it was totally delicious. If you are looking for an interesting white pizza recipe, try it out...I also added razor thin sliced ripe tomatoes (I'm in Florida so can find them).

      2. re: fruglescot

        Thanks Guys!

      3. I thought the problem is that so many pizza places use some kind of "cheese food product" in stead of cheese.

        1. Maruca’s was a very popular pizza place on North Olden Avenue in Trenton, NJ many years ago. They also have a very popular stand on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ. I was always told that they added white cheddar to their mozz to give it a very good and distinctive flavor.

          1. You are noticing the difference between processed cheese food and "real cheese".

            If you are paying ~$5-10 for a large pizza, you are probably getting processed cheese, processed crusts and processed topping too. If you want "real meat toppings, house made crusts and real cheese", expect to pay over $20 for a large.

            If the place uses soy sausage vs pork sausage, it is also probably using processed cheese.

            "I've seen the posts that talk about "industrialized cheese" and such, but I'm looking to hear specifically what that means compared to "the good stuff"." Industrialized cheese would be velveta or pre packaged sliced american. The good stuff is often imported and isn't sold in convenience stores.

            1. IMO, I think it's that skim milk mozzarella has become so commonplace. If you really want that milky cheese taste, you have to use whole milk cheese.

              1. I love using muenster cheese on my homemade pizzas for the very reason it's stringy like the cheeses on pizza's use to be when I was a kid. Your right that the cheeses have no flavors now adays on the commercial pizzas. If I don' thave muenster I will use fresh mozzarella... I also add lots of freshly grated romano.

                1. As has been pointed out- there are different things that you are talking about. One is called "cheese", and the other is some sort of cheese product.

                  Sometimes it's as simple as the difference between making whole milk mozz vs. part skim mozz, but sometimes it's much worse than that.

                  You can make a cheese product with milk "solids", gums, stabilizers, etc., and that stuff does not melt. You'll find that on a cheap 'za.

                  Real cheese is a product that is made from milk. Period. There are enzymes and salt added, but that should be all. Industrialized "cheese"or "cheese food", depending on who makes it, can really be anything, expecially since you won't be told who makes the cheese on your pizza- unless you ask.

                  1. Hi - for tips on where to find pizza, please look at or post on our regional boards

                    Tristate (for Long Island) - http://www.chowhound.com/boards/20
                    Manhattan - http://www.chowhound.com/boards/18
                    Outer Boroughs - http://www.chowhound.com/boards/19

                    Thanks!

                    1. Grande cheese seems to be used by a lot of top pizza joints. It has that flavor you will remember from childhood. Their East Coast Blend is a 50/50 mix of whole milk and part skim mozzarella.