While we love Parmigiano-Reggiano for its salty, nutty, complex flavor, it has a rival that deserves to be better known in the United States: Grana Padano. Grana Padano has a slightly sweeter and subtler flavor than that of Parmigiano-Reggiano and is equally capable of holding its own on a cheese board, or shaved over carpaccio, or grated over pasta. They’re both aged cow’s milk “grana” cheeses, meaning they have a grainy texture resulting from amino acid crystals. Both are produced using similar methods in the Po River Valley of northern Italy, but the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) of Grana Padano covers a far larger area than that of Parmigiano-Reggiano, so it’s less expensive.
Look for it at good cheese shops.