You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted true Mozzarella di Bufala. Just ask Lara Postiglione.
“This isn’t your garden variety mozzarella,” she asserts. “It’s a protected trade name in Italy that applies only to cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes raised in the Campania and Lazio regions of Italy and produced to very exacting standards.”
Lara first experienced this sublime dairy product while teaching English as a second language in the Port of Naples. It was a life-changing experience. “It was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted,” she recalls with unabated delight. “I was absolutely crazy about it.”
When she moved with her husband, shipping industry executive Rosario Postiglione, to Chicago 14 years ago, she discovered to her dismay that she had left her favorite delicacy behind.
“We went to Italian restaurants and grocery stores and discovered that true Mozzarella di Bufala wasn’t available anywhere in the Chicago area,” she recalls.
Rather than mourn the loss, Lara seized the opportunity, and La Mozzarella was born. “We decided from the beginning that we weren’t going to ship in a lot of different products,” she explains. “We were going to import a few products and make them exceptional.”
The couple took another important stand early on. “To ensure that our products are as fresh as possible, we decided to eliminate the warehouse and ship directly from Italy to our customers,” she notes. “What’s the point of providing fresh Italian cheese if it’s sitting in storage in America waiting to be sold?”
With those two fateful decisions made, it was time to find the perfect producer for the job, and Lara left no stone unturned. She researched the field thoroughly, narrowing it to the best eight. She then visited all eight factories and brought their products home to be tested by her entire extended family in Italy.
“I took the process very seriously,” Lara says. “We wanted to make sure that we had a product that tasted great and travelled well so that our customers here in the Midwest could experience Mozzarella di Bufala exactly as it’s enjoyed in Italy.”
From there, the couple carefully expanded their offerings to include Caciocavallo as well as Burrata from the Puglia region, prosciutto from Parma, olives from Sicily and a dozen or so other items, including a handful of products from one of the most renowned cheese-makers in Italy: Nonno Nanni.
“Nonno Nanni won the World Cheese Award for the Robiola in 2014,” Lara notes with pride. “We’re honored to be able to distribute them.”
La Mozzarella’s products are served in the area’s finest restaurants, and they’re also available for purchase online by individual customers.
Lara and Rosario travel back to Italy regularly to visit family, check in on the factories they do business with to make sure they’re fully compliant with U.S. health and safety codes, and vet out new products. But they’re in no hurry to add to the list.
“We offer only the freshest and only the best,” Lara says. “That’s our success.”