10 Great Alternatives to Romano, the World’s Most Grateable Cheese
Romano cheese originated in Rome and is sometimes referred to as Pecorino Romano. There is another type of Romano that is actually made in the United States and much more widely accessible, which is the type of Romano we will be talking about here.
Either type of Romano is a delicious cheese and both will have similar alternatives.
Romano cheese can be a combination of sheep milk (rare in the U.S) as well as cow, goat, and even ewe. This cheese is quite similar to those high-end cheeses of Italy that are often the star of any cheese board (Parmesan Reggiano, Asiago, Pecorino, etc.) but because Romano is American-made and does not follow the same strict inspection standards, it will not break your pocketbook!
Romano cheese is delicious, crumbly, and salty when served chilled, and it makes the perfect cheese for grating and melting because when it melts it becomes ooey-gooey, creamy, and rich!
It is pale yellow and its rind is almost always edible. Because Romano is aged, it has a sharp flavor and crumbly texture.
Romano is often seen grated finely on top of pasta, risotto, and other Italian-inspired dishes because of its cost-effective nature. It can be used in greater quantities for pasta fillings, lasagna, and in salads and vegetable dishes. It is also a popular sandwich topping when sliced thin, or grated onto pizza for its super meltability!
If you cannot find Romano cheese at your local grocery store, many amazing alternatives will still work with your recipe. Here are a few of those substitutes:
1. Parmesan Reggiano
The closest cheese in the flavor profile of Romano is probably Parmesan, but bear in mind, Parmesan is likely double or triple the price of Romano cheese.
There is a cheese called “Italian Romano” which is very, very similar to Parmesan, but made in Rome rather than Parma. Ask your cheesemonger if in doubt.
2. Cheddar Cheese
Classic Cheddar cheese will melt and grate like Romano, especially if you find good quality, aged Cheddar cheese.
An aged cheddar will have the same sharp bite, and they stand up to melting, slicing, and eating raw and are used to top elegant Italian food.
Cheddar cheese also has the same smooth texture and firm bite as Romano, so it does make a suitable and delicious substitute!
Asiago is a wonderful alternative to Romano because it has that same sharp bite, but also the creaminess and ability to melt, like Romano. Asiago is also less expensive than some of the other Italian cheeses on the market, meaning it won’t break the bank like Parmesan!
4. Grana Padano
Like Parmesan, Grana Padano is almost indistinguishable from Romano except for its subtle flavor profile differences, as Grana Padano is always made from skim cow’s milk and Romano might be made from a blend.
These cheeses will all be slightly different in flavor and texture but are both high-quality and equally delicious!
Although Manchego has a slightly stronger flavor due to its sheep’s milk makeup, it is still quite similar to Romano in its texture and mouthfeel.
Manchego will also offer the same melty quality as Romano, and its off-white, yellowish hue. Just remember to remove the rind from Manchego cheese before using it — it is dipped in paraffin wax!
6. Piave Cheese
Named after the Italian region from which it originated, Piave cheese hails from the Piave river area. Although similar to Romano, Piave cheese is completely unique in that it is a cooked cheese!
First, this cheese is cooked and then cured, and then aged, giving it a very full spectrum of flavors, and is sold at each stage with different colors of labels.
The youngest of these options is a dense, very crumbly cheese that is mild if not slightly sweet. The aged version which you will find is most similar to a classic Romano, is full-bodied, nutty, and complex.
Piave would make an excellent addition to any cheese board or rich pasta dish, and makes a perfect substitute for Romano!
7. Monterey Jack
This is a cheese that is approachable, recognizable, and hearty! Monterey Jack is ultra-versatile — it can be sliced and diced for quick snacks and cheese boards, or it can be grated and used to melt all over pizza, pasta, Mexican food, and more.
Monterey Jack, like Romano, is known for how well it melts. It has an ultra-high fat content and can range in intensity when it comes to flavor. Although there is certainly a difference in taste and quality, we think you will find Monterey Jack is a great substitute for Romano cheese in any recipe!
This is a Spanish cheese that is similar to Manchego, but has its differences too. Zamorano is made from sheep’s milk, so it will taste different than Romano and have more of a bite and aftertaste, but unless you are a trained cheesemonger, you would likely never be able to tell the difference.
Zamorano has a signature dark purple, brown rind as it is rubbed with olive oil as it ages and although this rind is often edible, it is most often cut off, so remember to do this if you decide to use Zamorano as a substitute for Romano.
Pecorino is the famous hard cheese, often made in Sardinia, Italy. Like some of its Italian cheese family, Pecorino is always made from sheep’s milk and therefore has a stronger flavor and sometimes a signature aftertaste that some say resembles hay.
Pecorino can sometimes have different varieties that can include ingredients other than just milk and salt, so make sure you read the labels if you decide to use Pecorino as a Romano alternative.
Pecorino is known for its sharp, unique flavor, lending itself from sheep’s milk which has a different flavor profile than cow’s milk cheese, so you may need to cut back on the salt in your recipe as well.
10. Nutritional Yeast
Most vegan folks will admit that nutritional yeast (also known as nooch) is not cheese per se, but it does share some of the same characteristics of real cheese! Nutritional yeast on its own is quite savory and has that same umami flavor you get from real cheese and its substitutes.
By blending equal parts nutritional yeast with toasted walnuts, and adding a generous portion of salt, you can achieve the same texture as finely grated Romano, as well as the nutty, salty flavor.
Romano is an excellent cheese because of its versatility — slice it, dice it, grate it or just eat it as is… Romano is loved by all who try it. It can be a little hard to find Romano as it is not as popular as its Italian counterparts, but you will likely find Romano in a mixture of cheeses when shopping for Italian foods.
Romano is less expensive than Parmesan or Pecorino, so it is often used in blends to make them more cost-effective for consumers. There is nothing wrong with Romano, though… It is a delicious cheese that is steeped in the old traditions of cheesemaking that make these kinds of Italian cheeses so sought after.
The only real difference is in the price — because Romano isn’t as extensively inspected and doesn’t require the same certifications, and because it can be made from any combination of milk, it is naturally less expensive to make and ship. Most people who try Romano would never know the difference, so it is a great cheese to add to your repertoire!