Dear Mr. Gold:
Even from my own experience, I know there are innumerable types of prosciutto. But, in your opinion, where in L.A. can I get the best, or at least some of the best?
—Robert S., Los Angeles
There are actually not as many different varieties of good prosciutto available here as you might think: Parma prosciutto, San Daniele prosciutto from Friuli, and the best domestic prosciutto, from the artisans at La Quercia in Iowa, which is the first American product to approach the Italian in quality. (Country ham from producers like Gatton Farms and Col. Newsom in Kentucky is as good in its own way, and the best is even sold as prosciutto, but it’s another product, with a history of its own.)
While there are potentially significant differences in Parma prosciuttos, they’re produced under the guidance of a consortium, and it is rare that you are given a choice of makers — how it’s handled has a lot to do with its quality. I think the Parma prosciutto on the menus of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza is exceptional, aged a little longer and with a smooth nuttiness. (Mozza often has the La Quercia on hand too.) The extra-aged Parma served at Vincenti is wonderful, especially when served with the burrata. And while you can get decent Parma prosciutto at any Whole Foods or Bristol Farms, you’re probably better off with a high-end shop that will slice it properly. Beverly Hills Cheese Shop, La Porta in Pasadena and Froma in Los Angeles all take excellent care of their Parma prosciutto.