A Taste of Italy: Unveiling the Delights of Romano Cheese


Apr 23, 2024
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Romano cheese, a grating cheese renowned for its sharp, salty flavor and crumbly texture, is a cornerstone ingredient in many Italian dishes. Often compared to its close relative, Parmesan cheese, Romano offers a distinct character that elevates various culinary creations. This article delves into the world of Romano, exploring its history, production process, unique qualities, and versatile uses in the kitchen.

A Historical Journey: The Origins of Romano

The exact origin story of Romano cheese remains somewhat enigmatic. However, historical evidence suggests its roots trace back to ancient Rome. Sheep’s milk was likely the primary ingredient in these early iterations, and Romano may have played a significant role in the Roman diet.

Over time, the production of Romano cheese migrated throughout Italy, with variations emerging in different regions. Today, the two most prominent varieties are Pecorino Romano and Romano made from cow’s milk.

What is Pecorino Romano Cheese?

Pecorino Romano, a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (PDO) cheese, holds a protected designation of origin within the European Union. This designation signifies that the cheese must be produced in a specific region using traditional methods and adhering to strict quality standards. Pecorino Romano is made exclusively from sheep’s milk and is known for its stronger, sharper flavor compared to Romano cheese made from cow’s milk.

Cow’s Milk Romano Cheese

Romano cheese produced from cow’s milk is more widely available and generally more affordable than Pecorino Romano. While it offers a similar sharp and salty profile, the flavor intensity is typically milder.

The Art of Romano Cheesemaking: From Milk to Grated Goodness

The production process for Romano cheese involves several key steps:

  1. Milk Selection: Sheep’s milk (for Pecorino Romano) or cow’s milk is pasteurized to ensure safety.
  2. Curdling: Rennet, an enzyme, is added to the milk, causing it to curdle and separate into solids (curds) and liquids (whey).
  3. Cooking and Draining: The curds are cooked at a specific temperature to achieve the desired texture. The whey is then drained away.
  4. Salting: The curds are immersed in a brine solution, which adds salt and helps to preserve the cheese.
  5. Aging: It is aged for a minimum of 5 months, allowing the flavors to develop and intensify. Longer aging periods can further concentrate the flavor profile.

The Role of Salt

Salt plays a crucial role in Romano cheese production. It not only adds flavor but also acts as a natural preservative. The brining process helps to draw out moisture, contributing to the cheese’s crumbly texture.

Unveiling the Characteristics of Romano Cheese: A Sensory Experience

It boasts several distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other cheeses:

  • Flavor: Sharp, salty, with a hint of nuttiness. The flavor intensity can vary depending on the type of milk used (sheep’s milk vs. cow’s milk) and the aging period.
  • Aroma: A pungent and slightly fruity aroma.
  • Texture: Hard, dry, and crumbly. You should grate Romano cheese, not slice it, for use in various dishes.
  • Color: Light yellow to pale gold.

A Culinary Powerhouse

It’s sharp and salty profile makes it a versatile ingredient in many culinary applications. Here are some popular ways to use Romano:

  • Pasta Dishes: A classic addition to pasta dishes, especially those featuring creamy sauces. It adds a salty counterpoint to the richness of the sauce.
  • Salads: Sprinkled over salads, it provides a salty and flavorful element.
  • Soups and Stews: A touch of it can enhance the taste profile of soups and stews, adding a depth of savory flavor.
  • Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables can be finished with a sprinkle of it for an extra layer of savory goodness.
  • Pizza: This is a popular topping for pizzas, offering a salty and slightly sharp flavor that complements other toppings like tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Beyond the Basics: Creative Uses for Romano

For adventurous cooks, it opens doors to culinary exploration:

  • Cheese Blends: Combine Romano with other cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano to create flavorful blends for pasta dishes or gratins.
  • Breadcrumbs: Adding grated Romano to breadcrumbs adds a salty and savory punch to crusted dishes like chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan.
  • Stuffings: Incorporate this into your next stuffing recipe for


Is this same as Parmesan cheese?

Romano and Parmesan cheeses share some similarities, such as their sharp, salty flavor and crumbly texture. However, there are key distinctions. Producers make Romano cheese from either sheep’s milk (Pecorino Romano) or cow’s milk. Parmesan cheese, on the other hand, is traditionally made from cow’s milk. Pecorino Romano offers a stronger, sharper flavor than Parmesan cheese, while Romano made from cow’s milk delivers a milder taste compared to both. Romano cheese undergoes a minimum aging period of 5 months, while Parmesan cheese requires a longer aging process, typically lasting at least 12 months. This extended aging results in a more complex flavor profile for Parmesan.

Can I substitute this with Parmesan cheese?

In most cases, Parmesan can be a suitable substitute for this. However, keep in mind that Parmesan might have a slightly milder and nuttier flavor. If using Parmesan, adjust the quantity slightly to achieve a similar level of saltiness.

How long does Romano cheese last?

You can store unopened Romano cheese in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Once opened, it’s best to consume it within 2 months to maintain optimal flavor and quality. To maximize shelf life, wrap opened it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container.


Romano cheese, with its sharp, salty character and crumbly texture, adds a distinctive depth of flavor to various culinary creations. From enhancing pasta dishes to complementing salads and vegetables, Romano offers versatility in the kitchen. Whether you choose Pecorino for its intense flavor or the more readily available cow’s milk , this Italian cheese is sure to elevate your cooking. So, the next time you’re looking to add a salty and savory punch to your dishes, reach for this and explore the world of flavor it has to offer.

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