Lansing Star Article About Our New Home Made Cheeses
In 2008 Steve Fazzary expanded Northeast Pizza in the Small Mall in the Village of Lansing to include the Scale House Brew Pub,where he began brewing beer behind the bar. Last year he expanded his beer making operation, which enabled him to expand the number of pub-brewed beers. At the beginning of March Fazzary will expand the unique experience by making his own fresh mozzarella cheese, and offering ten new dishes featuring it, including five Margherita Pizzas.
“Margherita Pizza was invented in Italy in the late 1800s,” Fazzary explains. “When Queen consort of Italy Margherita of Savoy visited Naples, Chef Raffaele Esposito and his wife created this pizza to celebrate her visit. It’s fresh mozzarella, the dough, the sauce and basil leaves. With the basil leaves, the red sauce and the creamy white fresh mozzarella you get the colors of the Italian flag.”
The cheese will also be used in two new salads and three new appetizers. In addition Fazzary says he will offer cheese making classes, and will sell both the mozzarella balls and the curds to make them from for people who want to make their cheese and/or cook with it themselves at home.
“I think it’s a niche that nobody else is doing, and no one else knows how to do,” he says. The result is a very nice, old country-type pizza. It’s not as salty. It’s creamy white instead of yellowish. The pizzas are made more for the sauce and cheese to blend together, rather than just sauce with a bunch of cheese on top. So the flavor of the other ingredients comes out more.”
The process starts with a raw curd, which is cut into four inch squares. The squares are pushed through a cuttar to create even strips that are placed into a mixing bowl. 140˚ water is added to slowly heat the curds. The water is changed twice, slowly rising the temperature to 160˚. Now the curd starts to stretch and appears shiny. A paddle is used to stretch the cheese and remove the lumps. It is rolled into balls and wrapped in plastic wrap. When it cools it is ready to cut or grate for appetizers or pizza.
It takes Fazzary about a half hour to process between 20 to 40 pounds. He estimates that would be enough to make about 40 pizzas, just under half of the restaurant’s daily pizza output. The dough and sauce is also made in-house. The official debut is March 1st.
“A lot of pizza places in New York City make it like that,” he says. “People know that when they come in at certain times they can get it fresh while it’s still creamy and warm on the inside.”
Before purchasing Northeast Pizza in 2006 Fazzary spent 26 years as a cheesemaker. He worked for Pally-o Dairy, Golden Age Cheese, and a few of his own companies, among others. It is a family tradition that began with his great grandfather. Fazzary is the fourth generation of cheesemakers. So adding home-made cheese to the menu is a return to his roots.
“We’re going to start doing a lot more with cheese,” he says. Cheese pairing with foods, eight different types of beers, wines. Some of the cheeses we might make here, and some from small artisans in the area. We’ll see how it goes.”
After adding beer brewing capacity to the restaurant Fazzary began looking for an off-site facility to expand the brewery further. He plans to sell to restaurantsHe says he is considering locations in Schuyler County, Tompkins County and Steuben County, and additionally he is thinking about another facility that will produce cheese.
To start with Fazzary is making the cheese himself in the brew pub kitchen. Once the routine is established he plans to train some of his employees to make it as well. To ramp up to the March launch he is offering a specialty Margherita Pizza each day in the slice bar to get people used to the new product.
“People like it. It’s different,” he says. “It’s not what they’re used to. Once they taste it they really like it.”