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Seductive burrata becomes a menu star

The creamy cousin to mozzarella is used in dishes from appetizers to desserts

Over the past few years, burrata has shot up the charts like a bullet on the hit parade of trendy ingredients.

This cousin of mozzarella cheese has achieved near ubiquity in a relatively short time owing to its creamy taste, smooth texture and the fact that it plays so well with other ingredients. According to market research firm Datassential, burrata used as a salad topper has increased 150 percent since 2012, a healthy bump that is doubtless due to stellar creations like the lobster and beet salad at San Francisco’s Bar Crudo, which boasts not only the titular ingredients, but also burrata, arugula, pistachios and Banyuls vinaigrette.

Native to the southern Italian regions of Puglia and Basilicata, burrata is a fresh cow’s milk cheese, a velvety blend of mozzarella and cream. Damn near irresistible, it’s been popping up everywhere. In Italy, burrata is served as an antipasto that starts the meal, which is how it made its initial appearance on American bills of fare. But burrata has recently crossed over to other parts of the menu, too.

  • Burrata still maintains a place of honor on the appetizer list, but many chefs are dressing it up a bit. At Domenica in New Orleans, it’s part of an Italo-Big Easy mash-up served with local Northshore Honey, sea salt and grilled bread. At Perbacco in San Francisco, burrata appears in a mélange of asparagus, sorrel and toasted pistachios, and at Double Zero in Atlanta, it’s gussied up with trendy Calabrian hollandaise, leeks and pine nuts.
  • Too good to serve only as an opening act, burrata also stars on pizza, like The Burrata Pie with arugula, hazelnuts and caramelized onions at Pitfire Artisan Pizza in Los Angeles. It’s also center stage on the Burrata Pesto Pie with oven-dried Texas tomatoes at Fireside Pizza’s metro Dallas locations.
  • Burrata has been breaking out on sandwich menus, like the Burrata Burger with smoked pancetta and caramelized onions at Michelin-recommended Tony’s Pizza Napoletano in San Francisco. It’s been on a burger at Umami Burger, too, where it was accompanied by portobello mushrooms, basil-almond pesto, baby arugula and heirloom tomatoes.
  • Burrata demonstrates real menu stretch in nifty dishes like the innovative burrata gelato churned to order with tomato caramel and Genovese basil at RPM Italian in Chicago and Washington, D.C., or the fun burrata-stuffed olives on the bar at Otto Mezzo in Chicago.
  • Chains are not immune to burrata’s charms, and it has popped up on summer menus at Seasons 52, where the Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Board starter also includes prosciutto, arugula and 15-year-old balsamic vinegar, and at First Watch, where the Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Toast is served with two cage-free basted eggs.

When an ingredient becomes so hot so fast, it can cool off equally quickly, but it’s easy to be bullish on burrata. Its ready compatibility with a range of menu applications, inherent consumer friendliness, and growing availability from both domestic manufacturers and importers suggest that burrata is well on its way to becoming a menu standard.

Nancy Kruse, president of the Kruse Company, is a menu trends analyst based in Atlanta. As one of LinkedIn’s Top 100 Influencers in the US, she blogs regularly on food-related subjects on the LinkedIn website.

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