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Jul 10, 2009 09:58 PM

Authentic mozzarella di bufala pizza

Hey everyone,

I've been reading a lot about the new pizza joints serving their own take on Neapolitan and Roman dough but for me the defining quality of a pizza should be the cheese. Unfortunately, I haven't heard any sites address it specifically, instead going on about the potato in Veloce's dough or Co.'s sourdough roots

I'm easy on the base, whatever works, but I love margheritas so if I had to rank a pizza it would be on:

1. Cheese
(a distant) 2. Base
(an ever more remote) 3. Tomato sauce
4. Err, that's it!

So do any of the new (or old) places use real buffalo mozzarella from their own farm or shipped fresh from Italy? I know DiFara's is heavy on the Parmesan but does anyone have any more info?


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  1. They use a lot of fior di latte in Naples and the like, actually.
    You may also get mozzarella di bufala.
    In NYC, if you do not see mozz di buf specified, it is cow's milk but most of these newfangled joints use it or have a choice. Una uses on buff mozz, I imagine of the Luzzo's, Keste, Co., etc. etc. most offer both. I have not memorized them all and the choices. Menus are easy enough to come by. None are from their own farm, there is basically zero production of mozz di buf in USA, all shipped in. Freshness of it is key, it has zero shelf life. If you taste it from, say, Whole Foods, like most people, they believe it to have a bit of a sour note. Actually, that is because it is sour, cannot have it sitting there a week or two or more. Nasty. When it is truly fresh, it is fantastic.
    Grana Padano and fior di latte at Difara.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dietndesire

      Hey thanks for the reply. I thought fior di latte would be the most common but most places just say 'mozzarella' on their menu with no further info.

      I didn't know they used f d l in Naples, that's very interesting. Of course, over there it's fresh and mind blowing. If any pizzeria ships it in frequently that would be cool too, it's just so odd that no one seems to care about it...

      1. re: dietndesire

        There is actually a society for Naples style PIzza; if you join it, you PROMISE to use Mozzarella de Bufala. You said that in Naplese they use cows milk mozzarella, which surpirsed me given that. It's called Varezza PIzza Napolitana Association and they certify and train their members in making Neapolitian pizza. What makes you think that they use fior de latte mozzarella in Naples?

      2. There is at least one place that I am aware of in the USA that raises water buffalo and uses it to make mozzarella. It is in Vermont.

        Obika mozzarella bar has (or used to) it, but it really paled in comparison to the Mozzarella di bufala from Campania they serve. I am not aware of any place that puts this Vermont mozzarella di bufala on pizza.

        Most of the new generation of pizza places serve pies with buffalo mozzarella (generally imported from Italy). Anthony at UPN uses only buffalo mozzarella on his pies. DiFara and Lucali combine buffalo mozz. with aged mozz. and grating cheese (parm. or grana) on their pizzas.

        Buffalo mozz. when used will always be specified on menus. If it just says mozzarella it will be made from cow's milk. In Naples the pizzas are generally made with fior de latte, with bufala an extra cost option at most places. However one of the most celebrated Neapolitan pizzerias, Da Michele, uses only fior di latte.

        There are some who feel that the higher moisture content of the bufala does not make for a nice texture when melted and fior di latte is superior for this purpose. In fact, many pizzerias in Italy will put on the bufala only after the pizza has cooked, or near the end of the cooking process. You can find a pie made in this way at No. 28 on Carmine St. They also do a standard version with fully melted bufala so you can compare the two.

        BTW - We in NYC make superb fior di latte mozzarella. Ideally, find some place that makes it fresh and does not refrigerate it and eat it that day. Di Palo makes a great one and many other places in the five boroughs make a wonderful fresh mozz. You can probably find a bunch of great places by searching this board.

        2 Replies
        1. re: boccalupo

          Wow thank you, that's an excellent post.

          That Vermont place sounds so cool and odd. I'll try to hit No. 28 and just grab a spoon and munch through a ball of Di Palo's mozz.

          I honestly wasn't BLOWN AWAY by Da Michele, the NYC places hold up just as well, but that's a 100+ thread for another forum.

          1. re: boccalupo

            At a pizza seminar last year, Anthony from UPN explained that he used to import his cheese from Italy, but due to the vagaries of shipping schedules and cheesemaking schedules, it was simply too old by the time it actually go to his door. If my memory serves correctly, he switched to a supplied in California who can get it to him much quicker, so it is still close to its peak.

            It's not as flavorful as the Italian stuff at its peak but it's very difficult to get the Italian stuff to NYC fast enough. And yes, he said UPN uses only buffalo mozzarella on its pies.

          2. Here's a post that explains Dom's pizza making process:

            It looks like he uses a combination of regular mozzarella, bufala mozzarella, Grana Padano, and this CH report from 2005 seems to corroborate, kinda, but says it's fior de latte, bufala, and Grana Padano:


            *However* this email exchange with a Di Fara fan says he actually uses four types of cheeses:
            1. regular mozzarella
            2. fior de latte
            3. bufala mozzarella
            4. Parmesan (not Grana Pradano



            In any case, it looks like he uses a mix of types, not pure bufala.

            4 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks Kathryn, that's really helpful.

              In fact since I've never eaten at Di Fara's (I know, I know) I think I'll go next week before Dom meets the great pizza maker in the sky.

              1. re: AgentRed

                Una Pizza uses Californian (Bubalis?sp) produced buffala on his pizza.Keste uses imported smoked and regular buffala and and also imported Burrata I believe.The Fiori di late is local domestic from Di Palo.Seemingly the owner used to be in the dairy business in Campania has first line contacts in Italy,hence he is both knowledgeable and discerning in his choices .There is a latticini in Soho (off Houston around 6th) that does a good provola. but the name escapes me?I think DiFara uses Grande fresh wet cows milk.

                1. re: xny556cip

                  > There is a latticini in Soho (off Houston around 6th) that does a good provola. but the name escapes me?

                  Joe's Dairy
                  156 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: xny556cip

                    Yes, I checked and UPN seems to get their mozzarella di bufala from Babulis Babalis in California.


                    Accoriding to Babulis' website, outside of California, there are only two places that serve their mozzarella, UPN and some place in Naples, Florida. As far as I can determine they are the only other producer of buffalo mozz. in the USA aside from the place in Vermont I mentioned in my above post. I am assuming all the other places that serve buffalo mozz. in NYC are importing it from Italy.

                    The California sourced mozzarella di bufala seems to work fine on UPN's pizza.

                    The place you are talking about in Soho is probably Joe's Dairy at 156 Sullivan. They make a nice fior di latte mozzarella as well.

              2. Kestè, Forcella or Sottocasa in brooklyn..