Hooked on Cheese: Cheeses for Pizza with Chef Anthony Falco

The pizza czar of Roberta's in Brooklyn teaches a mean lesson in pizza cheeses

The other day I decided to pop into the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and treat myself to one of Bouchon’s famed macarons (the pistachio flavor is to die for). As I entered the building and headed for the escalators, I passed by specialty kitchenware retailer Williams-Sonoma, where a sign in the window reading “$1 Pizza Slices” caught my eye. It seemed too good to be true, so I had to investigate.

Not only were they offering $1 slices of pizza and glasses of wine that afternoon (what?!), but the pizza was being made by Chef Anthony Falco, famed pizza chef formerly of Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

I struck up a conversation with the self-described International Pizza Consultant about his favorite cheeses for pizza as he lifted a mushroom-and-fresh-mozzarella pie out of the oven. He said he prefers mozzarella di bufala when he can get it fresh, but most often he uses fresh cow’s milk mozzarella, preferably from Wisconsin when he’s baking in the US. Falco said he frequently will use a combination of cheeses, including basic loaf mozzarella (BelGioioso makes a good widely available option) and different cheddars (his favorite: Prairie Breeze™). The crucial element for each cheese? It must have great melting properties as well as offer a hint of sharpness or slight acidity for an added kick.

After chatting, I sampled the mushroom pie; the cheeses had an impressive melt and their flavors layered perfectly with the simple pomodoro sauce and roasted mushrooms. I tried one of his cheese slices as well, and noted that the fancy home pizza oven he was using had given the pizza that impeccably blistered crust I love.

As I finished my wine and sauntered out onto Columbus Circle, I realized I’d been so blown away by Falco’s pizza that I never made it to Bouchon. Luckily for me, those macarons aren’t going anywhere.

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Follow Raymond's specialty food escapades on FacebookInstagram and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.