9 Awesome Italian Cheeses Everyone Should Know

[Photograph: Alice Gao]

If French cheeses are best served preceding or culminating a meal, Italian cheeses are often woven into the fabric of dinner (or breakfast, or lunch).

Parmigano-Reggiano, the King of Cheese, is ubiquitous grated over fresh pasta, or slivered atop asparagus, or tangled up with peppery arugula and a squeeze of lemon. Ricotta is for drizzling with good olive oil and scooping up with crusty bread, or baking into lasagna, or cheesecake. Wedges of Pecorino Toscano are perfect salad bedfellows; Asiago is at home in many a gratin; and mozzarella was made for pizza (or vice versa?).

That doesn't mean that Italy's cheeses aren't diverse, nuanced, and exquisite. Or that they do not stand on their own. A whiff and a bite of meaty, oozing Taleggio or a sweet, creamy Robiola is proof the French have no monopoly on cheese triumph. Here are some stellar, beloved Italian cheeses that ought to be part of your repertoire. See all 9 in the slideshow >>

9 Italian Cheeses You Should Know

Pecorino Toscano
Fontina d'Aosta
Mozzarella di Bufala
Robiola Piemonte

Full disclosure: I work at Fairway market in NYC, where these gorgeous cheeses were shot.