Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods, with billions of pizzas sold each year at restaurants across the country.
For many pizzerias, choosing the right cheese is crucial to creating the perfect pie. Two popular options for high-quality pizza cheese are Bacio and Grande. But which one is better suited for topping pizzas?
Key Takeaway: Bacio and Grande both offer unique advantages and disadvantages for pizzerias. Factors like taste, melting properties, availability, and cost should be weighed when deciding between them.
An Overview of Bacio and Grande Cheese
Bacio is a premium pizza cheese made by the Bacio Cheese Company, exclusively distributed through Performance Foodservice. It contains a blend of cow's milk along with a "kiss of buffalo milk", which gives it a distinctive creamy and tangy flavor profile. Bacio aims to provide exceptional melting properties and coverage for Neapolitan-style pizzas baked at high temperatures in wood-fired or deck ovens.
In comparison, Grande is a whole milk mozzarella produced by Grande Cheese Company based in Wisconsin. It has traditionally been a highly popular choice among U.S. pizzerias for its excellent melt, stretching capabilities, and full dairy flavor that browns nicely in traditional pizza ovens. Grande positions itself as "the cheese for pizza perfection".
So how exactly do these two pizza cheeses stack up against each other? Here is an in-depth comparison of their key differences and similarities.
Taste and Flavor
One of the most important factors in choosing a pizza cheese is how it tastes. Bacio and Grande both offer full-fat, milky flavors, but there are some notable differences in their taste profiles.
The buffalo milk in Bacio gives it a tangier, richer taste compared to regular mozzarella. The flavor has been described as creamy, buttery, and slightly sour - similar to authentic mozzarella di bufala. This unique flavor profile makes it stand out from cow's milk cheese like Grande.
Grande is an excellent traditional pizza mozzarella, with a clean, milky flavor. Since it doesn't contain buffalo milk, Grande has a more familiar mozzarella taste that many customers find comforting and nostalgic. The flavor is generally described as mild, delicate, and light.
Key Takeaway: Bacio’s buffalo milk content makes its flavor profile more complex, while Grande offers a classic mozzarella taste.
Ultimately, the preferred taste depends on your pizzeria's style and customer preferences. Bacio may complement more gourmet or Neapolitan-style pizzas with fresh toppings, while Grande is a safe choice for traditional New York-style pies. Taste tests are recommended to determine which better suits your needs.
A top priority for any pizza cheese is how well it melts and browns in the pizza oven. Excellent melt is essential for even coverage and that stretchy, gooey texture customers crave.
Both Bacio and Grande are designed to melt smoothly at high baking temperatures. However, some pizzerias have noted differences in their melting behaviors:
- Bacio becomes very soft and creamy when melted, evenly coating the pie. The buffalo milk gives it a characteristic oozy stretch when pulled.
- Grande melts into an ideal pizza cheese consistency - slightly firm yet pliable enough for good stretching. It browns evenly without breaking or becoming greasy.
For best results, shred the cheese rather than using pre-shredded bags, which contain anti-caking agents that can inhibit proper melting.
Key Takeaway: Bacio offers a very soft, creamy melt while Grande provides an ideal balance of stretch and browning.
Consider your particular baking style when choosing between them - Bacio excels in ultra-hot Neapolitan ovens, while Grande isoptimized for traditional pizza oven conditions.
Availability and Cost
Practical considerations like availability, distributors, and cost per pound also factor into the Bacio vs. Grande decision.
In terms of availability, Grande has traditionally had a strong coverage network as a popular pizza cheese option. However, Bacio has expanded in recent years through exclusive distribution via Performance Foodservice, increasing its availability.
Cost is another practical consideration. Grande is viewed as a premium product that comes at a higher cost per pound compared to Bacio. However, Bacio's promotions and incentives like its Gold Club rewards program helps offset some of the price difference for restaurants.
When choosing a distributor, consider their pricing and availability for both cheeses. Having to switch distributors can lead to logistical challenges. Weigh costs per pound against your volume needs and any rebates or promotions offered.
Key Takeaway: both have good distribution today, but Grande comes at a higher base cost per pound that restaurants should factor into budgets.
Reheating and Holding
For pizzerias selling by the slice, how the cheese tastes and performs when reheated is vital. Pizza cheese needs to reheat evenly without becoming rubbery or oily.
For this application, Grande has an advantage over Bacio. The "kiss of buffalo milk" that gives Bacio its flavor seems to make it break down faster during refrigeration and reheating. Grande's traditional mozzarella composition holds up better when portions are refrigerated and re-baked.
However, results can vary based on reheating methods. Experiment with different equipment like pizza ovens versus microwave ovens to determine which cheese offers the best results for your process. Proper storage conditions like temperature and duration also impact quality.
Key Takeaway: Grande seems to maintain its melting properties better than Bacio when pizza slices are refrigerated and reheated.
Which Cheese Should I Choose for My Pizzeria?
With all of their differences weighed, is Bacio or Grande definitively "better" for pizzerias to use on their pizzas?
The answer depends on your restaurant’s individual needs and preferences. Consider factors like:
- Type of pizza oven and baking temperatures
- Pizza styles - traditional, Neapolitan, New York, etc.
- Dine-in, takeout, or delivery model
- Customer preferences and demographics
- Budget and pricing
- Availability from distributors
As a specialty pizza cheese containing buffalo milk, Bacio offers a unique, rich flavor profile suited to higher-end pizza restaurants focused on quality ingredients. Its ultra-creamy melting properties also make it a potential fit for wood-fired Neapolitan ovens. However, the higher cost per pound is a downside to factor in.
For pizzerias specializing in traditional New York-style pies, Grande may be the ideal choice. It offers that nostalgic pizza cheese taste and can better withstand reheating. But the premium pricing is also a consideration with Grande.
There's no "one size fits all" answer - do side-by-side testing of Bacio and Grande on your pizzas to determine the right option for your specific restaurant. Taste, performance, and business needs all play a role in choosing the best pizza cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is Bacio cheese?
Bacio is a specialty premium pizza cheese blended from cow's milk along with a small percentage of buffalo milk, giving it a tangy, creamy flavor. It is made by Bacio Cheese Company and distributed exclusively by Performance Foodservice.
What is Grande cheese?
Grande is a popular pizza mozzarella made from whole milk. It is produced by Grande Cheese Company in Wisconsin and prized by pizzerias for its excellent melting properties and milky flavor.
Is Bacio better than fresh mozzarella?
Bacio offers a different taste and melt compared to fresh mozzarella. It is optimized as a pizza cheese, while fresh mozz tends to create a wetter, less browned pizza. Bacio has a firmer texture and richer flavor due to the buffalo milk.
Why is Grande more expensive than other pizza cheese?
As a premium mozzarella designed specifically for pizza, Grande commands a higher wholesale cost per pound compared to basic mozzarella. Its reputation for quality among pizzerias allows Grande Cheese Company to charge more.
What is the best cheese for reheated pizza?
For holding and reheating pizza slices, traditional mozzarella like Grande tends to perform better than buffalo milk cheese like Bacio. The protein breakdown that gives buffalo mozz its signature softness can cause issues during refrigeration and reheating.
The choice between Bacio and Grande cheese ultimately depends on your pizzeria's priorities and preferences. Consider conducting side-by-side tests baking pizzas with each to compare their taste, melt, and how well they hold up over time. Look at availability and pricing from your distributor. And factor in your customer demographics and pizza styles. With excellent yet differing properties, both Bacio and Grande can potentially create mouthwatering pizzas - identify which one best complements your restaurant's needs and vision.