Toronto·Suresh Doss

This Woodbridge shop serves up housemade Italian cheese

Quality Cheese is part convenience store for imported Italian goods and part cheese making facility in Woodbridge, Ont.

Quality Cheese is located at 111 Jevlan Dr. in Woodbridge

Quality Cheese is located in Woodbridge and is part convenience store and cheese-making facility. (Suresh Doss)

I see Woodbridge as home to some of the best Italian food shops and restaurants in the GTA. It is a sprawling community in the city of Vaughan that never ceases to amaze with each visit.

It's the home of one of the largest Italian populations outside Italy, and it's full of artisanal shops that have sprouted over the last two decades and amid the industrial sprawl you can find small companies that make small-batch sausage and pasta.

Last winter, I shared my favourite place in Woodbridge for Italian pastries: Sweet Boutique located on Jevlan Drive. On that street you can come across a swath of these independent producers. The places here are crucial to the restaurant industry in the province. Today, your favourite Italian restaurant probably procures their mozzarella, pastas and breads from Woodbridge.

One such place is Quality Cheese: part convenience store for imported Italian goods and part cheese making facility.

I was introduced to Quality Cheese a number of years ago when I was trying to source Bomba Calabrese — a spicy Calabrian pepper spread that I fell in love with during a visit to Italy. I couldn't find it anywhere in the city, and a chef suggested I drive up to Woodbridge.

Albert Borgo is the owner of Quality Cheese. His family took over the shop in 1999. (Suresh Doss)

Because it's off the main drag, Quality Cheese remained a locally kept secret for many years since Albert Borgo's family took over operations in 1999. They transformed the industrial building to a place where Italians would go to buy everything from hard-to-find pastas, condiments like bomba and, of course, cheese.

"Cheese making has been in my family for over four generations. My dad has been making cheese for over 50 years and he introduced his style to Canada with this shop," Borgo​ said.

Quality Cheese makes fresh Italian cheese in the GTA

4 years ago
Duration 1:04
Quality Cheese is located in Vaughan.

When you walk into Quality Cheese, you can't help but immediately gravitate toward the long cheese counter against the wall. There's a flurry of activity from the moment the doors open, as locals and city chefs visit to grab boxes of cheese. This is where I met Borgo​ during that quest for a bottle of Bomba.

Borgo​ runs the store along with his brothers, and he spends the majority of his time introducing customers to the fresh cheeses that they produce.

Quality Cheese makes fresh mozzarella. (Suresh Doss)

Borgo's father hails from the city of Vicenza, in northeast Italy. Cheese culture is in Italy's blood, from Venice to Calabria, so you won't find a shortage of mom-and-pop cheese shops amidst the renaissance palazzi and numerous churches in Vicenza. It was normal to walk into your favourite shop and find unusual, small batch cheeses that is only made in a neighbouring town.

During that visit, Borgo​ leaned over the counter and offered some burrata and mozzarella for me to try. My eyes widened after the first few bites, as I tasted a product that took me back to my journey through Italy. A sense of freshness and character from a product that has spent little time on the shelves.

Quality Cheese, located in Woodbridge, is in a converted industrial building. (Suresh Doss)

"We make all our cheeses in this facility," Borgo​ explained as he took me through the tasting. Burrata came next, Borgo​ placed a large shiny ball of Mozzarella on a plate. He carefully sliced into the outer layer, and out oozed the soft stracciatella cheese and cream.

"We make this from Ontario milk, which has a distinctive taste."

Fresh burrata made at Quality Cheese. (Suresh Doss)

There is a flavour difference; it may be subtle but terroir plays a role in how these cheeses taste. Borgo's fresh cheeses, the mozzarella and burrata, have a slightly sweeter taste because the milk is sweeter here. There's also a slight herbaceous quality to the cheese.

The burrata is incredible, with the texture of the solid mozzarella to the milky and creamy bits of curd. This is my favourite cheese here! I exclaimed, not knowing that Borgo​ had something even better to present.

One of his cheesemakers brought out an overflowing basket of ricotta.

"We make ricotta fresh. We sell it warm, fresh out of the kettle. No additives, nothing, "he said as he handed me a spoonful.

A look at ricotta cheese made in-house at Quality Cheese in Woodbridge. (Suresh Doss)

Every time I have some of the fresh-made ricotta, it has a knee weakening effect on me. The sweet and plumpy characteristic of the cheese is only further accented by the warmth. If you are a fan of fresh cheese, there's no experience that rivals eating fresh warm ricotta from the kitchen.

It is Quality Cheese's top product and worth an early morning drive to Woodbrige (not available on Saturdays). As the temperature drops, so does the taste of the cheese. It keeps for up to a week in your fridge, the flavour profile deepens with each day.

I prefer to enjoy it right after I purchase the cheese. I grab some bread, a small bottle of olive oil and spread the cheese on the bread, drizzle a little olive oil and enjoy it in the parking lot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suresh Doss is a Toronto-based food writer. He joins CBC Radio's Metro Morning as a weekly food columnist. Currently, Doss is the print editor for Foodism Toronto magazine and regularly contributes to Toronto Life, the Globe and Mail and Eater National. Doss regularly runs food tours throughout the GTA, aimed at highlighting its multicultural pockets.

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