At the risk of sounding like one of those people who went to a foreign country once and brings it up every time a certain food or experience is recreated in the United States: In 1998, I traveled to Italy and, spoiler alert, literally every version of Italian everything is better there. I know, shocking. Amid the delicate and baked to perfection wood-fired Neapolitan pizza margherita in Naples, creamy, al dente pasta ai quattro formaggi in Florence and the stellar espressos and cappuccinos in every city, nothing stood out above all else as much as the fresh mozzarella. Found at seemingly every restaurant in Naples and made with buffalo milk from the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo, it was creamy, flavorful and, frankly, transcendent. Served simply with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil, it has haunted me every day since setting foot back on American soil. I read a 2012 New York Times article about finding fresh buffalo mozzarella in the U.S. in which the writer compared herself to Ishmael. I felt that in my bones. Until 2022, in the year of our Lord. 

One ordinary day while picking up a few items at Whole Foods, I popped into the cheese section — as one does — and couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was, a selection of mozzarella di bufala by a brand called Būf. I don’t know how long I stood there reading and re-reading the label, flipping the container of brine and cheese around and googling to confirm that it really was made from buffalo milk, but the staff behind the cheese counter were getting suspicious. The cow’s milk style is widely available in the U.S., and I’ve been consuming it for years at home and in restaurants. It’s fine, but truly a pale imitation in terms of flavor. I was hopeful about Būf brand (which you can also get at Langenstein’s) and picked up a package. But I remained skeptical. Once home, I couldn’t try it fast enough and — to my delight — it did not disappoint. The flavor I’ve been searching in vain to recapture for over 20 years was finally in my grasp. I whispered to the cheese in its mother tongue the only Italian I know other than menu Italian, “Ciao, amore mio!” 

That being said — and to manage expectations — it’s pre-packaged and not made fresh the day you buy it, so it still lacks that elusive je ne sais quoi (or the Italian saying for that, if there is one) of the house made Italian version. Sigh. According to 2021 report, there are still only a handful of water buffalo farms in North America (they are expensive, and it seems, delicate creatures), so I doubt I’ll find it truly fresh anytime soon. Last year, after posting about Būf on social media, a friend shared that Oro Bianco Italian Dairy near San Antonio, Texas makes cheeses out of buffalo milk from their very own buffalo and I’ve been vying to visit ever since. They have what they call a spreadable buffalo milk cheese that I think might be similar to a burrata, as well as various other cheeses made from the milk, but unfortunately fresh mozzarella isn’t listed on the site. Until a New Orleans chef gets with these folks in Texas about their buffalo milk and starts making it fresh every day however, I will continue to eat it once or twice a week caprese style until the end of tomato season. Now you can, too. 

Are you or do you know a local cheese monger or chef making fresh, mozzarella di bufala? Please email me immediately at