Burrata is “omnipresent,” in the estimation of New York Magazine, which late last year declared the Italian cheese was having a “bacon moment.” So restaurant servers these days are less likely to be called upon to explain the delicacy, but when they do, they often resort to a description that isn't entirely accurate.
Despite being made from the curds of fresh milk, burrata isn't mozzarella. Rather than being formed into a ball, in mozzarella fashion, it's styled into a little dairy pouch. It's then filled with fresh cream, ricotta or mascarpone, and mozzarella scraps. The resulting thin-skinned cheese dumpling looks like mozzarella, but it disgorges a liquefied richness when cut. Burrata means “buttery” in Italian.
Traditionally, burrata is wrapped in asphodel leaves and served almost immediately; it starts to get chewy two days after production. To get around the freshness quandary, many restaurants have begun making burrata.
It's also traditional to serve burrata by itself as a dessert course, or spread on bread earlier in the meal. But all that omnipresence has bred experimentation, and chefs now pair burrata with pickles; roasted vegetables; salsas; shellfish and yuzu cream.
Pane e Vino (Buffalo milk burrata with arugula salad, olive oil and lemon juice, $15)
goat. sheep. cow. is the best local source for cheeses, but cheese counters of major supermarket chains such as Whole Food Market and Trader Joe's may also stock burrata.
Burrata is on the menu at Indaco, where the cheese is served with olives and flatbread; Vincent Chicco's, where it's paired with roasted tomatoes and drizzled with balsamic; and Halls Chophouse, where it comes with prosciutto.