Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padana, or Pecorino Romano?
Which do you prefer? As an eating cheese, as a grating cheese, etc.? Open ended topic
Parm Reggiano hands down for both. It's more complex. The grana has a similar texture to the Parm so if I want "Parm like flavor" I would choose Grana. I think Romano is a little bit saltier and blends in with other ingredients easier since it has simpler flavor.
Additional question; Do any of you diners care or notice when restaurants write Parmesan on a menu when its Grana or Romano the bulk of the time?
I'd never consider Pecorino romano an eating cheese - it is too strong and salty. However, there are other ewe's milk cheeses that can be both eaten and grated: crotonese is one.
I usually use pecorino (for grating) or crotonese, etc (for nibbling and grating), but that is because I have a degree of lactose intolerance and try to avoid cow's milk. However a small amount of Parmigiano or Grana doesn't seem to bother me.
I also use pecorino just for grating and usually into pasta.
I happen to have lactose intolerance, but I was told that the longer the cheese had been aged, the less impact it will have on lactose intolerant people. So I mostly pick 36 month old Parmigiano Reggiano and it doesn't seem to have much impact on me.
All of them for grating, heck I'll even throw Locatelli into the mix, but just the Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padana for eating (I really love those crunchy little crystals in a well aged cheese, and you just lose that quality when it's grated).
To add to what lucaromeguide posted, when grated in a dish, there are times when one of those cheeses are more appropriate than the other. The pecorino may be more agressive in flavor, but sometimes that is what is called for. I think it's a mistake to think that something like Parmigiano Reggiano is the best, and therefor is the only thing you should cook with (that seems to be the case if you watch a lot of cooking shows these days). That's not always the case.