Vito has been making cheese in South Florida for retailers and restaurants since 1995. Today, his hand stuffed Burrata, different varieties of Mozzarellas, Ricotta and butter can be found all over Florida in retail shops and restaurants. Mozzarita clearly dominates the mozzarella market down here. The restaurants that aren’t making their own, are selling Vito’s cheese. It is the most popular and, in my opinion, the best tasting and freshest, in all of Florida.
The secret is in the curd, he says. He is constantly pulling pieces of the balls out of the production line for a taste. He lines up several little fresh balls along the edge of the table for me and his assistant cheesemakers to taste. He makes sure everybody in the creamery is tasting throughout the day, everyday. His assistant, looks at me and laughs as he hands her another piece. She tells me in Spanish how he has them taste cheese all day. She tells me she likes it and never gets tired of it as the other one laughs a little and shakes her head, telling me she doesn’t really care for it. She’s kind of tired of it.
The cheese balls at this point are still warm and the taste of the pure and fresh, creamy and mildly salty milk is quite discernable. They still squeak a little in my mouth as I chew through them.
As I watch him stretch his curd, I couldn’t help but think about how magical Mozzarella stretching is. He doesn’t use a thermometer to know when the water is hot enough to begin the stretch. He just knows by touch. He uses a large paddle to stir, hook and stretch the curd until he gets it pliable enough to start working it. He doesn’t measure the pieces that he pulls off to stuff with cream for the Burrata. He just knows how much the 8oz feel in his hands. But I have to remind myself that behind all this magic, there is a serious science that must be perfect in order for every other step in the process to work. He makes it all seem effortless, fluid and even sexy.
He makes Burrata on Mondays and Tuesdays to fill all the orders for the week. This ensures customers get it fresh on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the week they focus on the ongoing production of their variety of fresh mozzarellas, ricotta, stracciatella, truffled cheeses and some exclusive mozzarella formats he makes for some local chefs.
Vito Volpe’s newest venture is the Mozzarita Mozzarella bar in Boca Raton. Now we can all eat the fresh and delicious delicacies from Mozzarita everyday in a casual restaurant and used in traditional Italian recipes.