After returning from Italy a few weeks ago, I've been missing some of my favorite foods. But luckily, I found hope in Massimo M. Romano. Originally from Sicily and now residing in Snellville, Georgia, Massimo is making mozzarella- the right way!
Massimo and his business partner, Maria Chiara Montanara recently formed their company, Orobianco. It is here that they craft all manner of mozzarella products to sell at local farmers markets and restaurants.
This impressive machine is from Italy and the metal round pieces with different sized holes are where the mozzarella is molded. Maria and Massimo are the only ones in Georgia with this machine, and therefore the only ones with the ability to make quality mozzarella in large quantities.
Massimo crafts white or yellow scamorza, a cow's milk spun mozzarella cheese that has a harder form. The tradition is to form the cheese into a round shape then tie it near the top to hang to dry for 1-2 weeks, hence the funny looking result. ('scamozza' is an Italian expression that means 'beheaded,' an apt description)
Massimo was kind enough to show me how he made burrata, my personal favorite. First, he takes the high quality curd, sourced from New Jersey, and cuts it into small pieces. He slowly adds hot water and very gently, mixes and turns the curd. He does this until the cheese can stretch without breaking and takes on the color and sheen of porcelain. Like every great chef, he uses all his senses...
Next, he works quickly to form the cheese into a ball and create a small indent at the top. Then he adds a mixture of Italian homogenized heavy whipping cream, shredded mozzarella and homemade butter, and expertly closes it back up.
Massimo describes his work as a labor of love as he carefully cuts his burrata, ensuring it's the right consistency, color, smell, texture. He wants everything to be perfect. When I asked Massimo and Maria what makes a good mozzarella, they uttered lots of adjectives..."milky, springy, not mushy, porcelain-like, not too salty...it should melt in your mouth."
Massimo and Maria decided on a mozzarella business as they could not find any good mozzarella in or around Atlanta. So, first was the need. Second, as Maria shared, she grew up in the Campania region of Italy and her next door neighbor had a buffalo mozzaralla farm. Maria, "This reminds me of all the beautiful things of my childhood and the smell of my mom's kitchen."
One of Massimo's specialties are fagottini (first created by his mentor Gianni Rizzi). These are mini pouches made of mozzarella filled with cream of tuna, cream of anchovies, ricotta with nuts, basil or olives. So cute and so good...
Massimo and Maria offer all sorts of goodies including this wrap made of thin sheets of mozzarella, speck and arugula. They also sell fior di latte, ovoline, ciliegine, as well as sandwiches and spaghetti made of mozzarella.
Besides their retail shop in Snellville, you can find Maria and Massimo's mozzarella at farmers markets in Decatur, Roswell, Dunwoody and Marietta as well as at Star Provisions, Candler Park Market and Lucy's Market. Real mozzarella cheese in Georgia...I am forever grateful!
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach