By Rachel Galvin
In today’s world of high tech, big equipment and high paced processing; it is nice to know that some people still do things the old-fashioned way. Vito Volpe is one of those people. He works with his employees to make mozzarella from scratch all handmade with 100 percent cow’s milk, no preservatives.
The art of cheesemaking began far before recorded history and seemed to become a more sophisticated endeavor during the times of Ancient Greece and Rome. For Vito, his days of making cheese began as a child in a farm near Bari, Italy. He learned how to make it from his mother.
“From little kids, we learned from our mother how to make cheese. We made our own pasta, bread … We had a sheep we would milk and ride. We were not rich,” said Vito.
He moved to New York on Feb. 26, 1972 and opened up an Italian deli. He moved to South Florida in 2006.
“Nobody was doing this here,” he said. “Others try and think they know what they are doing and close.”
Today, he creates cheese daily with his workers, which number six and up to about 11 in the busy months (September through May), including his wife Lucrezia. He gets up at the crack of dawn and the process begins. His hands are sore from being in boiling water daylong. Mozzarella (which is derived from the Italian verb mozzare, which means “to cut”) starts with pasteurized hormone-free milk, which he gets delivered from a place in Tampa in 5 gal. bags. Curd is created by adding enzymes and citric acid. The large mass of curd is added to hot whey (liquids from the drained curds) and stirred until the curds melt and begin to form a smooth, shiny mass.
Some of the cheeses he offers are Mozzarella Fior di Latte, Fior di Latte (smoked), Ovolini, handmade Trecce Braid, handmade Nodini Knots, Scamorza, fresh Ricotta, Ciliegine Cherry, Sfoglia di Mozzarella, Bocconcini, Burrata and Mozzarella di Bufala.
His high quality cheeses have been sought out by fine dining establishments, at places like The Breakers and Fountainbleu, The Polo Club, as well as Boca Raton’s Saquella Cafe, Trattoria Romana and Villagio. It is even at certain Whole Foods and elsewhere.
Now, he has been asked to distribute at Publix in 200 stores in South Florida. For that, which will be a much bigger order, he has purchased a new machine to aid in the processing. It will speed up the process. It normally takes a few hours to separate the curds and whey and then as little as 15 minutes to take it and shape it into the proper shape and set it in a cold water bath to be placed into a container to be shipped.
Vito also sells other products like pasta, butter and olive oil.
People can come in and buy products directly from him, but usually they will see him out at events and green markets. Sometimes he sends other people to sell, but he always likes to attend the one in Parkland himself.
“It is a nice day off,” he said. “One day to relax.”
What makes his mozzarella different is not only that it is made by hand, but that it is preservative free.
“We do handmade with 100 percent milk, not powdered milk, no chemicals. The mozzarella may last only three weeks. Other [companies] say three months, because they put in preservatives. You get pizza with [cheap cheese] and it is like plastic you can crack in half. You feel sick. I don’t like to trick people. If you look for a bargain, don’t call me. If you look for quality, call me,” he said.
He added that olive oil bought from others is usually not pure, but mixed with another kind of oil.
“My father used to be able to spoon out olive oil like butter when it was cold. When you look at [another company’s] olive oil, you may see a small ball formed at the bottom. That is the percentage that is actually olive oil,” he explained.
Vito also just opened up Mozzarita Bar (at 9704 Clintmore Rd., #A-105 in Boca Raton), six months ago. He hopes to turn it into a franchise.
“There is wine, beer, food with mozzarella, like eggplant parmesan, burrata with salmon and prosciutto, cheesecake with ricotta, ciabatta bread with mozzarella and tomato [and more],” said Vito.
Mozzarita is located at 5392 NE 13 Way, Pompano Beach FL 33064. For more information, visit www.mozzarita.com.