Mutz-have Mozzarellas of Bergen and Hudson

Mutz-have Mozzarellas of Bergen and Hudson

A staple of Italian cuisine, mozzarella is popular the world over, but here in Jersey, it exists on another plane altogether. We’re not talking about your supermarket’s shredded-in-a-bag-that-lasts-for-months mozzarella. We’re talking freshly made balls of deliciousness. Milky, fluffy—everything you could ever want in a cheese and more. Whether you’re buying it to slice up for margherita pizza, or laying thick pieces across nicely toasted Italian bread for everyone’s favorite appetizer, bruschetta, or maybe just buying it to eat with your hands before you even get home (kind of nice when you’re stuck in traffic), fresh mozzarella is as good as gold in Jersey.

While there may be some difference in opinion between cheese-makers on how to make the best possible fresh mozzarella, according to Steven Damiani, cheese supervisor of Uncle Giuseppe’s in Ramsey, the answer is simple. You need to use the best equipment and the best ingredients. For example, the machine Uncle Giuseppe’s uses to make their mozzarella fresh multiple times a day was made in Italy, home of the cheese. The logic is simple, says Damiani: “Mozzarella was made in Italy, it comes from Italy, so who better to build a machine to make it than the Italians?”
But you need the best ingredients, too. “We use the best whole milk curd available on the market, which helps create the marshmallow-like texture that we have in our mozzarella,” Damiani says. Using the finest sea salt they can find matters, too. “It keeps the sodium content down while having a residual wonderful flavor that you’re not going to find in other mozzarella’s.”

If you’re mouth isn’t watering yet, it’s about to be after reading about these delis and markets that are making the best fresh mutz in the area.

Piccolo’s Gastronomia Italiana
{484 Bergen Boulveard, Ridgefield; 201.313.0200;}
When Owner Franco Piccolo emigrated from Italy to northern New Jersey in the 1970’s, he had his eyes on setting up a business that would cater to the needs of the area’s Italian community. Piccolo worked hard to open a deli, eventually reopening his business as Gastronomia Italiana in 1993, serving up Italian delicacies daily—both imported as well as made in-house. As an added bonus, not only can you get a wide variety of Italian specialties, but Piccolo’s also stocks a number of specially imported Croatian products as well, from coffee to soups to seasonings and more. Open Tuesday–Saturday 8am–7pm and Sunday 8am–2pm. Closed Monday.

A&S Fine Foods
{525 Cedar Hill Avenue, Wyckoff; 201.447.0800;}
You can go one of two ways when getting food from A&S. You can order catering, which will make you the hit of the office when a traditional cold antipasto platter or a tray of Penne Calabrese with mushrooms, peas, and sausage shows up. Or, you can indulge in their lunch menu. You’ll find delights at A&S like “The Coliseum,” which is a work of art on bread. Made with fresh mutz, roasted pork, broccoli rabe, and topped with roasted garlic and olive oil, the flavors are likely to bring out as many emotions as watching U.S. Olympians win gold medals. Open Monday–Friday 9am-6:30pm, Saturday 9am–6pm, and Sunday 9am–2pm.

Uncle Giuseppe’s
{10 Triangle Plaza, Ramsey; 201.995.6800;}
The first Uncle Guiseppe’s location opened in 1998 in East Meadow, New York, and in the 19 years since, the owners of Uncle G’s haven’t looked back, opening an additional four stores in New York (with one more on the way) and a sole Jersey outpost in Ramsey. Customers are treated like family in all locations, and no matter which one you visit, you’re not going to stop at the homemade mozzarella. You’ll want the stuffed mutz, too, and the homemade sauces, and the homemade pastas. If you want a place that recreates what food was like for your grandparents, Uncle G’s is it. Open Monday–Saturday 7am–11pm and Sunday 7am–9:30pm.

Cafasso’s Fairway Market
{1214 Anderson Avenue, Fort Lee; 201.224.7900;}
Not related to the market chain of the same name, Cafasso’s Fairway Market is a family-run market that is celebrating 90 years this year. Currently under management by the fourth generation of the family, the Fort Lee establishment has everything you could want in an Italian market—and more. The homemade mozzarella is top-notch, and goes perfectly with the myriad meats, cheeses, and olives. In addition, the fresh fish department is one of the best in the area, allowing customers the chance to cook and taste items they might not be able to find fresh otherwise.  Open Monday–Friday 8:30am-7pm, Saturday 8:30am–6pm, and Sunday 9am–3pm.

Jerry’s Gourmet and More
{410 South Dean Street, Englewood; 201.871.7108;}
An Englewood-area staple for years that’s as easy to get to as it is to get lost in, Jerry’s is a hub for all things gourmet. Fresh mozzarella is made daily under the supervision of Jerry Turci himself, and it sells out almost as quickly as it’s made. Around the holidays, expect a wait, as the lines multiply like snowflakes. In addition to mutz, there are over 600 other cheeses that customers can choose from. Jerry’s also makes their own sauces, based on family recipes (Marinara, Filetto di Pomodoro, and more). You can complete your trip to Jerry’s by picking up a little vino to complement everything else you’ve already got in your basket. Open Monday–Saturday 8am–7pm and Sunday 8am–2pm.

Vito’s Deli
{806 Washington Street A, Hoboken; 201.792.4944;}
With a slew of awards to their name, including “Hoboken’s Best Hero,” “Top 3 Best Heroes in the Country,” and, yes, “Hoboken’s Best Mutz,” it’s easy to see why Vito’s Deli is a must-visit destination for the connoisseur of the fluffy white gold. To top off the accolades, Vito’s was also featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” wherein celebrity Ted Allen indulged in the Smoked Fresh Mozzarella Hero. Owned and operated by Vito Buzzerio, Vito’s has been open since 1986 and produces some of the best freshly made mozzarella in Jersey. Open Wednesday–Friday 8am–7pm, Saturday 8am–5pm, Sunday 9am–3pm, and Tuesday 8am-6pm. Closed Monday.

Fiore Deli
{414 Adams Street, Hoboken; 201.659.1655}
Vito’s isn’t the only deli in Hoboken to have enjoyed a little screen time. Another icon of fresh mozzarella—and more specifically, the purveyor of the famous Roast Beef and Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich—is Fiore Deli, which has been seen on Food Network’s “Guilty Pleasures” and is said to have been featured in an episode of “30 Rock,” though merely by allusion. If you want this legend of a sandwich, be prepared: It’s only available for sale on Thursdays. For those that want a little history with their mutz, John Amato, who runs the deli, has been working there for over 50 years, and in that time, the way they’ve made mutz hasn’t changed. Open Monday–Saturday 8am–6pm.

Andrea Salumeria
{247 Central Avenue #A, Jersey City; 201.653.1666;}
Family-owned and operated since 1975, Andrea Salumeria is the place to go in Jersey City if you’re looking for a hoagie that’ll blow your mind. Awarded “Best Sub/Hoagie Shop Showdown” in 2016, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. While we loved the hoagies, we were drawn to the mozzarella, as you might’ve guessed. It’s fresh as can be, and getting the chance to try it on an award-winning sub is the way to go. When you’re done with the main meal, stick around for a Cannoli filled fresh on the spot, sending your taste buds into sweet cream heaven. Open Monday–Friday 8am–6pm and Saturday 8am-5pm. Closed Sunday.

Cuomo & Sons’ Deli
{7709 Broadway, North Bergen; 201.869.6913;}
A staple of North Bergen, Cuomo & Sons’ expansive deli menu is quarterbacked by their homemade fresh mozzarella. While you can get it fresh by the pound—and you should—there are many different ways that you can employ the delicious cheese that are also all worth checking out. The Chicken Cutlet Sandwich with fresh mutz and roasted red peppers brings out the best in mutz, while the Firenze Sandwich (made with roast beef, fresh mutz, and sundried tomatoes) is amazing when you’re searching for a little more red meat in your diet. Beyond delicious mutz, Cuomo & Sons’ also makes their own provola cheese. Open Monday–Friday 7am–9pm and Saturday 8am–9pm.

BY Sam Slaughter