La Perla d’Italia, in North Dallas, produces hundreds of pounds of fresh buffalo milk mozzarella every day

la perla d'italia buffalo mozzarella by MIchael Hiller la perla d'italia buffalo mozzarella by MIchael Hiller-5

La Perla d'Italia is also a full-service Italian restaurant.

La Perla d’Italia is also a full-service Italian restaurant.

La Perla d'Italia serves a wide variety of Italian dishes.  Bonus: right now, the restaurant is BYOB.

La Perla d’Italia serves a wide variety of Italian dishes. Bonus: right now, the restaurant is BYOB.

If you’ve spent time wandering the streets of southern Italy, you know how delicious freshly made mozzarella di bufala (yep, mozzarella made with water buffalo milk) can be. The problem here is that no one is producing milk from water buffalo in enough quantity to make fresh cheese. That’s why La Perla d’Italia, a new restaurant and cheese making facility near the Dallas Galleria, is such a welcome addition to Dallas.

Maurizio Primo, an owner and long-time Coppell restaurateur, gave me a tour of the cheese making facility last week and wow, was I impressed with the quality of La Perla’s cheeses, all based on water buffalo milk rather than the more readily available milk from dairy cows.

La Perla’s cheeses are all made from water buffalo milk cheese curds imported from a single dairy in southern Italy, where La Perla also has a cheese making operation. (La Perla also has a cheese making facility in Mexico but only produces cows milk mozzarella there.)

Buffalo milk mozzarella has about twice the fat of cows milk mozzarella, which makes it twice as delicious. When you slice it, the cheese weeps with whey and cream.

“When you make mozzarella from cow milk, there’s a lot more forgiveness in how you melt and stretch the curds,” La Perla’s cheese maker, Antonio Puglietti told me through a translator. “But with buffalo milk, there is a very brief, critical period of time that the curds are perfect for making cheese. If you miss that window, you have to throw away the curds and start over.”

Until he was recruited to Dallas a few weeks ago, Puglietti, 35, was making buffalo mozzarella in La Perla’s Naples facility; he’s been employed as a cheese maker since he was 17 years old.

Here’s how Puglietti makes his mozzarella di bufala:

La Perla d’Italia is gearing up to produce 300 pounds of fresh mozzarella di bufalo, smoked mozzarella, provolone, burata and scamorza a day, an easy task given that their current facility, tucked in the back of the Italian restaurant that shares the same name, has the capacity to produce 1,000 pounds a day.

La Perla’s cheeses are used in dishes at their restaurant and are also available for sale to the public, though the bulk of La Perla’s business comes from grocery and restaurant accounts across DFW. Clint Ford, the chief market guru at La Perla, says Central Market and Market Street will soon carry their cheeses. Chef Grant Morgan uses La Perla’s cheeses at the Ranch in Las Colinas, and Julian Barsotti told me he plans to use La Perla’s cheeses as well. La Perla says Costco has expressed an interest in selling La Perla’s mozzarella in their DFW stores.

5301 Alpha Road, adjacent to Maximo’s, 972) 661-1240