By Loren Shaum
WARREN – Fourth-generation Italian cheesemakers, Antonio and Giorgia Somma, a father-daughter team, have built a state-of-the-art, authentic Italian dairy near Warren. Opening on Aug. 24, 2019, and in partnership with local organic farmers, the Golfo di Napoli (translates to “Gulf of Naples”) Dairy produces classic cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, provolone and burrata.
The pasta filata (translates to “spun paste”) technique found commonly in the Naples region of southern Italy is used for all cheese-making. It starts conventionally where the milk is curdled and cut into curds, but once the whey (a by-product) is drained off, the curds are steeped in hot water and when they float, curds are drained and kneaded until a soft and stringy consistency develops. For mozzarella and burrata, a ball is formed, and mozzarella can be eaten immediately.
Burrata (translates to “buttery”) is mozzarella stuffed with stracciatella (a combination of frayed mozzarella and cream). After tying the ball to contain the stuffing, the center ferments while resting. The finished product can be eaten within a day.
Other cheeses like provolone must age longer, and some are smoked.
More than A Dairy
Upon entering, you are immediately attracted to the sleek, eclectic décor, the show-cases of products and the floor-to-ceiling windows revealing the cheese factory. The store offers many Italian items including oils, canned goods, vinegars, all kinds of meats, nduja (a pork salami spread), pastas, soft drinks, beer, wines, gelatos and a selection of coffees. Tastings are available, and they will slice meats to order.
Although many come for a scoop of gelato, a cup of coffee, expresso, latte or cappuccino, a glass of Italian wine or a glass of Peroni (an Italian lager not often found in these parts) while watching the cheese-making, the real draw is the café. The Somma’s have created a menu of everything authentically Italian.
There are four appetizers with the agerola mortadella being the most popular. It’s a fresh baguette stuffed with pistachio-infused stracciatella, kalamata olives, red pepper flakes and mortadella (a cured pork salami). I have to go back for that one!
There are five salads with the panzanella being the favorite. Made the classic way with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, capers, basil, mozzarella, shallot and toasted croutons. It’s served with a Dijon-garlic dressing. This salad is a meal!
Paninis are the favorite main dishes, and there are eight. Get there early, however, because the grilled cheese consisting of sourdough bread and caciocavallo (a southern Italian cheese similar to provolone) and served with tomato soup, goes fast. They were out of soup when we got there.
Another attraction is the charcuterie boards. There are five choices incorporating various cheeses, meats, olives, jams, fruit, nuts, capers, pesto and other goodies. Prices vary from $23 to $45.
There are also four unusual Italian bowls. Each contains various ingredients that you can mix together or eat separately.
With so many choices, our waitress suggested the zingara panini. Jammed between slices of fresh ciabatta was a stack of cotto ham, thick slices of provolone and tomato. It was stellar!
All paninis come with fresh arugula and a cherry tomato salad coated with a delicate balsamic vinegar. That, a small serving of fresh-made minestrone and a couple of ice-cold Peroni’s took me back to the days spent in Turin (Torino) and Firenze (Florence).
My wife, Gayle, went for a breakfast plate called prosciutto because it’s served on a fresh croissant. Our waitress declared: “Marko is our croissant maker, and he brings them in fresh every day!” Gayle concurred that: “This is the best croissant I’ve ever had!”
Golfo di Napoli Dairy is a little over an hour from Lake Country, but it’s a place everyone should visit. There’s also a store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue called Mozzarella Store, Pizza and Caffe.
If You Go
Golfo di Napoli Dairy is at 7716 S. Warren Road (SR 5) just south of exit 278 on I-69, Warren. Phone: 260-355-5975. Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10-8 p. m.; Friday-Saturday,10-10 p. m.; Sunday, 10-7 p.m.