Grande Cheese Factory Outlet
Grande Cheese Factory Outlet is not just a cheese shop. Rather, it's a sprawling Italian superstore, stocked with grocery basics and edible indulgences. While the Orfus Road shop does have Greek Feta, French Camembert, and other international offerings, Grande Cheese Factory Outlet is more of an Italian negozio di alimentari.
Well, maybe it's not exactly how they do it in Italy, but the bulk bins of 12 different varieties of Biscotti, rows and rows of help-yourself containers of Taralli, and wheels of Parmesan bigger than your head tell me that this shop--first and foremost--specializes in Italian.
This Grande Cheese Factory Outlet is one of six in Ontario, operating on Orfus Road for nearly two decades. The shop manager, Mario, tells me this store alone has over 30 types of Italian cheeses, plus numerous others of various origins.
Grande Cheese, of course, makes its own cheese, and Mario leads me over to the racks of Friulano, hanging balls of Provolone, and buckets of freshly made Bocconcini. "It's probably one of my favourite," he says, as we snack on mini Bocconcini balls. "I make a lot of tomato and Bocconcini salads." The cheese is very soft and light, with a freshness that blows away any supermarket variety.
Along with its own cheese, Grande Cheese stocks cheeses and other grocery items from local and international suppliers. The first wall adjacent to the entrance is stocked floor-to-ceiling with olive oils, mostly from Italy according to Mario. Then there's vinegar, stored with the same sort of prominence, followed by antipasto, juices, coffees and teas, and cookies--again imported from Italy, and again proudly displayed.
There's also an olive bar, deli counter, and pastas of every variety including spelt and rice. For those who don't feel like cooking, Grande Cheese has massive lasagnas (some gluten-free) and other ready-to-heat meals, along with the odd Sicilian ice cream and cream-filled croissants for after the meal.
With so many items I almost forget I'm in a cheese shop, but a saunter over to the Mozzarella and Romano helps me again get situated. Plus that tire-sized wheel of Parmesan would never let me forget. Alas, if only I had an industrial-sized cheese grater kicking around.