A tour of the Spatola Latticini Factory in Ridgewood, Queens.

Spatola Latticini Factory: Queens Mozzarella From Factory To Plate

You can find great mozzarella and great pizza in New York. But restaurants that make mozzarella from scratch to put on their pizza? That’s another story. When Franco Spatola offered a factory to plate demonstration in Queens, we couldn’t resist.

Franco came to New York from Italy in 1969, worked in a West Village pizzeria, and honed his craft in the 70’s at his first restaurant. He then followed in the tradition of his father: making mozzarella. About six years ago he opened the Spatola Latticini factory, in Ridgewood, which he runs with his brother, Freddy.

The Spatola Latticini factory.
Franco Spatola’s Spatola Latticini factory is on Decatur Street in Ridgewood, Queens.

After years of selling mozzarella to other restaurants (which he said includes Patsy’s Pizzeria), Franco decided to open a place in Astoria where he could use his own mozzarella, Da Franco.

The first of two rooms inside the Spatola Latticini Factory.
The first of two rooms. The two baths of cold water in front of the machine are where the finished product waits to be shipped.
Packaged mozzarella curd.
They use packaged curd form upstate. The 45-pound boxes come in two styles (the harder one is better for making pizza).
The curd is broken...
The curd is broken…
...and fed into the machine, which breaks it up.
…and fed into the machine, which breaks it up.
After the hot salt bath, the cheese is pulled and stretched.
After the hot salt bath, the cheese is pulled and stretched.

At his restaurant, Franco cuts the mozzarella into half-inch cubes, then scatters them over the sauced pies for even distribution. He takes particular pride in how much he stretches the dough. After a few minutes a pie was ready: Prosciutto with Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes. It was crispy and thin—maybe three times as thick as carta di musica. The best bites were the sweet ones with the cheese and the tomatoes.

“It’s enough to spoil eating it any other way.”

The better showcase was the Mozzarella Al Profumo Di Basilico, where the cheese is served with slices of tomato, roasted peppers, olives and basil. It’s a quality rendition of the classic Insalata Caprese. Neither application was as good as eating it fresh from the machine, where the cheese managed to retain more salt. It’s enough to spoil eating it any other way.

Spatola Latticini Factory
1852 Decatur St.,
New York, NY, 11385
(631) 384-6666

This post was originally published January 29th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.

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