A Lot of Burrata – Fairfield places that specialize in the art of cheese
What do you call a fad that never went away? Burrata. Yeah, that’s kind of cheesy, but it’s true. A handful of years ago burrata hit the restaurant scene and everyone was all over it. That explosive, oozy pocket of straticella was everywhere—with veggies, paired with the sweetness of a seasonal fruit, spread all over crunchy toast. You know you were into it, you probably still are. Even the Brussels sprouts craze calmed down a bit. Burrata is still going strong.
Let’s back up a second. When talking about burrata, we can’t forget to talk mozzarella. After all, burrata or straticella is basically the filling. The soft textured cheese that spills out is a mixture of mozzarella and cream. The outer “shell” that holds the creamy urrata is mozzarella.
Speaking of mozzarella. Remember when it was just on the menu at your neighborhood Italian restaurant in a caprese salad? Or, you know, if you grew up in an Italian household and practically ate it for breakfast.
For mozzarella, what’s old is new again, and for burrata, it doesn’t look like the craze will slow down. Good thing Fairfield has enough to keep cheese geeks satisfied.
At the popular Brick + Wood, burrata reigns supreme. They’ve been making all their cheese in-house since they opened in 2014. The mozzarella on the pizza and in the caprese salad? They make it. Even their smoked mozzarella is infused on the premises.
For Brick + Wood’s owner Clara Cavalli, making fresh mozzarella is important, as is freshness in everything they do. “Most places
just buy it and do whatever,” she explains. “Our thing was always to use what’s fresh, what’s seasonal, and that stuck. I don’t believe in using anything that’s not in season.”
Part of B + W’s whole concept was also centered around mozzarella’s relative, the burrata. If you’ve been, chances are you noticed a focal point of the restaurant, their burrata bar and pizza counter seating. It’s there where diners get a show, watching pizza oven action, and they get to watch countless orders of burrata get sealed inside a mozzarella shell on the spot.
Their most popular is truffle burrata with prosciutto. And no, they don’t use truffle oil, but rather Italian black truffles, sticking to Cavalli’s belief in using nothing artificial in the restaurant. Their burrata balls even take on different iterations during the year based on what’s in-season locally at the time. “In the summer we did prosciutto and melon, in the winter we’ll do burrata with blistered shishitos,” Cavalli says. “I even went with my kids to Jones Family Farms to pick strawberries to pair with it.”
At Cavalli’s Brick + Wood, she insists that burrata and mozzarella haven’t suffered a dip in fandom.
If you cruise to another part of town, mozzarella has a starring role. A & S Italian Fine Foods on Black Rock Turnpike is like stepping foot in an Arthur Avenue market with its high counters, fully stocked butcher’s case, homemade pasta, and some of the best cold cut sandwiches you’ll ever taste.
Every day, though, they make fresh mozzarella to fill an insane demand. “We make 400-500 pounds of mozzarella every week,” says owner Carmine Battimelli. “There’s been an uptick since restaurants started serving it more, then burrata comes in a bunch of years ago making mozzarella more popular.”
Their process combines curds from New York and Wisconsin that get aged a bit longer by A & S. From there, it’s traditional; the curds are heated in 170 degree to 180 degree water, repeated because the cold curds cool down the water, then the curds get lightly stirred with a paddle until they come together. From there, it’s stretched, balled up, made into tiny knots, then placed in a chilly salt brine to firm up. Sometimes, A&S gets fancy and offers mozzarella braids, something you don’t see everywhere. “The salt from the brine gets into the crevices,” Battimelli explains. “It’s a little different flavor and people like it because of the salt that gets trapped in between.”
Cheesy, creamy, melty, salty, occasionally even deep fried, but not famous for 15 minutes. It’s here to stay.