The Italian bluesThere are rarer blues, but "Gorgonzola's just good. No other way to put it," says Sal Auriemma, owner of Claudio Specialty Foods, the Ninth Street shrine where they know from such Italian classics. There's just a lusciousness about Lombardy's most famous cheese that can't be denied, especially with the milder "dolce" which, when truly ripe, billows like a creamy, greenish-tinged cloud. But even the hatbox-tall "piccante" (a.k.a. "Mountain Gorgonzola") from Gelmini, though drier in texture and more pronounced in flavor with a salty spice from its parsley-colored veins, melts at its own fudgy, creamy pace. For Auriemma, 56, the dolce is meant to be melted into cream sauce for his Mama's gnocchi. But his secret pleasure is to layer it atop a Kaiser-roll sandwich of his wife's warm roast beef. If the craving can't wait for dinner, a trip to Old Original Nick's Roast Beef at 22d and Jackson is in order. BYOG? Auriemma approves: "That gets the job done." - Craig LaBan
Gorgonzola dolce, $12.99 per pound, piccante, $19.99, Claudio's, 924 S. 9th St., 215-627-1873.