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Good Parmesan cheese in N Cal stores?

Earlier this year I had Parmesan cheese in a restaurant in Parma, Italy that was off-the-charts delicious.

Is it possible to buy cheese in N Cal that is as good or nearly as good as what is available in Emilia-Romagna?

I haven't had any luck so far with Parmesan products in local supermarkets.

P.S. I live in the Roseville area and regularly visit Sunnyvale. I'd be willing to shop within 20-30 minutes of either.

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  1. I'd think you'd have good luck in Sacramento. You may also want to post on the SFBA as the peninsula is part of that board. I'd be surprised if you can't find cheese FROM that area.

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      c oliver, I'm not savvy re: chowhound abbreviations.

      By 'SFBA' do you mean: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/1 ?


    2. You need to stay away from cheeses labeled "Parmesan" and stick to the genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano. I suggest shopping at Corti Brothers in Sacramento.

      Corti Bros or TJ's for Parmesan-Reggiano (Sacramento)?

      More about Corti Brothers,

      4 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I went to Corti Bros a few days ago and bought some Parmesano-Reggiano.

        It was excellent, although at $23/lb more expensive than I was expecting.

        1. re: SimSportPlyr

          That is steep. Did you ask for it to be cracked off the wheel for you? Wondering if you caught the brand or if it was an extra-aged type.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Melanie, I forgot to ask to have the cheese cut freshly off the wheel. I'll ask next time I'm there.

            The label of the P-R says, "ITALY Parmigiano Reggiano...Corti Bros".

            In fact, most or all of the cheeses lacked brand info. For e3xample, I saw "Vermont Cheddar". It may very well have been Cabot brand, but it was impossible to tell.

            If their business model is to be high-priced vendor, then I can see why they would not provide information that would allow the customer to search for an alternate source.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Melanie -

              The P-R label does contain any info about aging, even though some of Corti's other cheeses, esp cheddar, did.

              I find Lucca Ravioli Company's (SF) P-R to be much lower priced than Corti's, so in the future I think I'll buy at Lucca when I can make it to SF and find a more reasonably priced local outlet (Costco, maybe) in my area (Roseville).

        2. Have you tried the Nugget Market in Roseville, they have a pretty good cheese department.

          Costco also has imported Parmigiano-Reggiano available from time to time. They will most likely have increased cheese selections as we move into the holidays over the next couple of months.

          In Sacramento, there is Corti Brothers market, which specializes in fine Italian food.

          Sunnyvale would be covered on the SF Bay Area board.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pamf

            Melanie and Pamf, thanks for the helpful replies!

            I had not tried Corti Bros or Nugget, but I will.

            Also, I'll check for 'Parmesan-Reggiano'.


          2. I shop regularly at Nugget ( Vacaville; I am not near Corti,) and Nugget is the bomb, but if you don't mind a huge hunk, at least in Vacaville, I think Costco is the way to go for some good cheeses.


            I use a vacuum sealer to store after I break it down. Right now I have some gruyere, gouda, smoked gouda comte, goat, and ?parm-reg...had a stamped rind but I ate it.. :D

            And when you want to go crazy, check out Oxbow Market in Napa. Next to where Copia was.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Shrinkrap

              Shrinkrap, thanks. I'll try Nugget. is there any particular brand you like?

              1. re: SimSportPlyr

                They seem to label their own manchego, asiago, parm reg, but also have "local" ones like cowgirl creamery goat cheese and point reyes gorgonzola. I like them all, but prefer the parm-reg and grana padano from Costco.


                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  Pam, NVJims, and Shrinkwrap, I bought P-R at Costco and it's excellent.

                  It's not as good as I remember the cheese in Parma, IT to be, but it is as good as any P-R I've had in the US.

                  I prefer Costco's P-R to the P-R I bought at Corti Bros., and I like it as well as the P-R that I bought at Lucca in SF.

                  I paid $12.49/lb at Costco, which is considerably less than the prices I've seen at supermarkets (Nugget, Corti, Raley's).

                  Thanks for the recommendation!

            2. Lived in Italy so I hear you - the real thing on home turf is food for the gods. Be sure to look for the stamped labeling on the rinds to get at least the real thing from the Parma Reggiono locale.

              Plus look also for imported "grana" which is made in the same way but not from the exact designated locale - like wines. Some times it can be just as good, but cheaper.

              Agree, the domestic stuff called "parmesan" is pretty dreadful and should not even be allowed to use that label.

              Between Parma ham and Parma cheese - Parma city is a culinary mecca. What restaurant did you visit there - have a trip planned for the future. Great little opera house too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: glbtrtr

                My wife and I ate at Ristorante La Greppia in Parma.

                We loved the food there, esp the cheese appetizer.

                Be warned that the restaurant is pricey.

                I recommend you read reviews of La Greppia before going there. Italian reviews have criticisms of this restaurant.

              2. Costco regularly carries the good stuff and very good prices.

                3 Replies
                1. re: NVJims

                  Thx, NVJims, I'll check out the P-R at Costco.

                  1. re: NVJims

                    Costco's P-R is excellent, and that's where I've been buying it since I read your and other's recommendations here.

                    Thanks for the tip!

                    1. re: NVJims

                      Costco's Parmegiano Reggiano Stravecchio is excellent !

                    2. FYI, DW and I had a chance to visit Lucca (recommended to me on another TA string) Tuesday.

                      We bought some P-R and some Romano.

                      Both were excellent and the best cheeses of those types I've had in the US.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: SimSportPlyr

                        Sorry to reply to my own post, but as clarification Lucca is a deli in San Francisco.

                      2. For the benefit of those of you who live in South Placer county, I bought some PR this week at Dominick's Deli in Granite Bay (Auburn-Folsom and Douglas Blvd).

                        I saw a couple of large chunks (maybe 10 lbs each) in Dominick's refrigerated cheese-meats display. The guy at the counter was willing to slice off any amount of it for me.

                        I forget the exact price, but it was $15/lb, or very close to it.

                        I don't like the taste of Dominick's P-R as well as Costco's, although I'm no connoisseur, so maybe I'm evaluating it wrong. I can't articulate why I prefer Costco (sorry).

                        If another Chowhounder were to try Dominick's P-R, I'd be very interested in hearing your assessment.

                        I'm not sure whether Dominick's NY Pizza & Deli in Folsom (Folsom Blvd & Blue Ravine Rd) also carries P-R.

                        1. I've found that with Parm Regg, aside from price, there are two factors to consider:
                          1. How recently was the wheel cracked open? I happened to be at Whole Foods right when they cracked a new wheel open, and got to try a hunk right out of the middle. Best I've ever had. That intense, super-fresh taste disappears after a week or so, in my experience.
                          2. Not all Parm Regg is equal. They all meet minimum specifications to carry the stamp, but they do vary somewhat from producer to producer. Some are better than others.