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Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padana, or Pecorino Romano?

Which do you prefer? As an eating cheese, as a grating cheese, etc.? Open ended topic

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  1. 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?

    1 Reply
    1. re: uvahustla

      there is a big difference between grana o reggiano and pecorino romano, the first two are made out from cow milk and the pecorino romano it is sheep milk, the taste it's much stronger good for matriciana souce

    2. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lagatta

        Hi lagatta,

        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.

      2. Absolutely Parm Reggiano...

        1. 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.

          1. Love, love, love all three but would have to say Parm Reg is my favorite.

            1. I love them all.

              I once ate pecorino romano with pistachio nuts and a glass of wine as a pre-dinner snack once and thought I'd gone to Heaven. The flavors blended beautifully.

              1. Parm Reg Stravecchio. a little winey and nutty.

                1. Here's a good discussion from a while back:

                  Personal preference - for eating, Parmigiano and young Pecorinos (aged ones are usually too intense for me to eat straight). For grating, depends on what the dish is.

                  I prefer Pecorino with pastas if the ragu is duck; also prefer Pecorino with cauliflower, fava beans, and anything sauteed with garlic/mint/anchovy/red pepper. Also goat and lamb sugos, assertively flavored salumi.

                  I prefer Parmesan with more delicate butter and egg sauces, veal/beef/pork ragus, asparagus, spinach, and truffles, rabbit, butternut squash, prosciutto/Serrano ham

                  Artichokes can go either way, depending on how they're seasoned.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: daveena

                    Does "Pecorino" always imply Pecorino Romano, or are there other types of pecorino? I have a cookbook that refers to pecorino a lot, and I'm not sure what it means.

                    1. re: yamalam

                      No - there are other pecorinos - Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano (sp?) .... Though I'm guessing that when people say "Pecorino" - they mean "Pecorino Romano".

                      1. re: yamalam

                        Most people understand pecorino to mean Pecorino Romano. There are many pecorino cheeses. Pecorino basically alludes to the fact that the cheese is a sheep's milk cheese. What follows the word "pecorino" is usually the cheese's origin. Pecorino Sardo, sheeps milk cheese from Sardinia. Toscano, Tuscany. Romano, Rome. Then there are those less obvious cheeses without pecorino in their names like Moliterno and Crotonese cheese. These are *both* pecorino cheeses, and the cheesemakers are allowed to substitute a percentage of goat's milk in their cheese without harm or foul.

                      2. re: daveena

                        My basic pasta rule is if it's spicy, I'll grate pecorino (romano) on top. Otherwise, parmigiano.

                        Basically, if the food has strong flavor, I would use pecorino. If it has more subtle flavors, I would use parmigiano.

                        1. re: miss_bennet

                          Si dipende, as they say. Parmigiano Reggiano is to my taste among the 2 or 3 finest eatign cheeses anywhere. Grana Padano is fine, too, but not always worth the cost saving. I use both mixed with mostly pecorino when I need grated cheese, but I tend to cook southern Italian dishes that really need the sharpness. Pecorino Romano was for many years about the only pecorino widely available--usually by Locatelli, usually made in Sardinia.
                          I recommend the Fulvi brand, made in la campagna romana, for eating as well as grating--cut fresh from a large wheel it's amazingly delicious. Teitel on Arthur Avenue sells tons of it, cheaply. Many other pecorinos (Sicily, Calabria, Sardegna) readily available here tend to be mass-market, and are often only distinguishable by age. Be wary of very old or poorly handled pecorini--young and fresh ones need to be just that, and when they are, are exquisite.

                          1. re: obob96

                            They make pecorino romano in Sardinia?

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Yes, in fact, quite a large amount of the Pecorino Romano DOP produced today comes from Sardegna. I don't know why, but I believe that it is historically "accurate" (hence the DOP certification). My guess is that the name indicates the long history and origins of the cheese (it is well-documented that this cheese was preferred by the ancient Romans), rather than its geographic production area. Sardegna also happens to be the capital of shepherding and sheep products in Italy. FYI: Locatelli, the most well-known and available brand of Romano in the US, is actually a brand produced in Sardegna exclusively for US importation, and is a subsidiary of Auricchio (of Provolone fame here in the US).

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  No, I hadn't seen it. I just now added my $.02. Thanks!

                      3. All good. As a general rule, Americans tend to use (and waste) Parmigiano in almost everything, whereas Italians often prefer pecorino for many things.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Karl S

                          I actually prefer Pecorino too, for I like I strong aggressive taste. I felt guilty for a while since Parm Reg seems to be the norm for "refined tastes".

                          I wouldn't use the word "eating cheese", but I actually love nibbling on some Pecorino too.

                          1. re: takadi

                            This would probably horrify an Italian but there is one time I use pecorino romano in a nibbling capacity: try stuffing slivers of it in the best whole pitted dates you can find. I think there is some umami at work here but these babies are far tastier than the sum of their very-easy-to-assemble parts.

                            Aside: I was at a party once where dates stuffed with a white substance were on offer. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be marzipan and not the zingy, salty goodness of romano.

                            I gotta have me some reggiano for adding to cheese plates and grating on fresh pasta.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              I buy my reggiano at Whole foods, but as an eating cheese, I can never really identify the "crystals" people rave about. Perhaps the cheese has been sitting out too long?

                              1. re: takadi

                                Hi takadi,

                                Is the reggiano cut from a wheel of Parmesan? Do you know the age of the cheese? The "older" the cheese, the more crystals you will find.