In Italy, people eat mozzarella the way they eat bread: only the day it is made. On 9th Street, thanks to Claudio Specialty Food, Philadelphians can do the same.
Nearly every day, Claudio Auriemma can be seen through the glass doors behind the counter of this charming cheese shop working an industrial-size mozzarella-making machine. Four years ago, Aurimemma’s father found this pristine machine in Italy and had it shipped over in pieces. Today, this 3rd generation cheese maker on average makes 500 pounds of mozzarella a day, and on holidays, easily over 1000.
What’s more, he also makes fresh ricotta and burratta “” another fresh Italian cheese, textured like mozzarella on the outside, but creamy in the middle. Traditionally, asphodel or leek leaves wrap around the balls of burratta made from the milk of water buffalo. When drizzled with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with a little sea salt, this cheese tastes unbelievably delicious! Be warned, however, purchase burratta only on Saturdays at the shop, and preorder 24-hours in advance for pickups during the week. And the creamy fresh ricotta, sold in the main cheese shop, can be purchased every day.
Tasting fresh mozzarella for the first time after years of eating what you thought was mozzarella is like eating a different food. Auriemma says, “It’s like comparing deer meat to filet mignon.” For some people, only buffalo mozzarella will do, but that’s likely because they’ve never tasted Claudio’s. Buffalo mozzarella, while indeed delectable, still has to be shipped (with a few exceptions) from Italy “” really, nothing compares to the freshness of Claudio’s.
Claudio’s mozzarella can be found in either of the 9th Street shops or at Sue’s produce in Center City (18th between Market and Chestnut), where it flies off the shelves “” the shop sells about 1200 pounds a week.
If you’ve never had it, you’re in for a treat, but heed Auriemma’s advice: “Don’t eat it cold.” Auriemma recommends letting it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes before serving.