MELROSE PARK, Ill. - If you've ever bought cheese in a grocery store, there's a good chance it may have come from Melrose Park.
Caputo's has been producing and processing cheese in Melrose Park for the past 40 years. They supply vendors all over the region.
Production has never stopped at Caputo's, but the process has become more efficient over the years.
At their headquarters, they produce more than 200,000 pounds of mozzarella, burrata and ricotta a day in peak season.
"Hard work, dedication, passion, passion for the product," said owner Natale Caputo. "We listen to the consumer, that kind of drives the market. Kind of drives the pricing and where we need to be to lead in our industry."
Captuo's co-packs for several other companies and private labels. They also make a simple cheese called Tuma almost daily.
"It's more of a fresh-style cheese, this cheese is typically used in cooking, like in a pocket if you were making a calzone or a pizza pocket or pizza puff," Caputo said.
To make cheese, curds are cut and heated in a machine. As they're drained, the liquid whey is drawn off for making ricotta, while firm curds are placed into molds, then flipped over to achieve their oblong shape.
The store itself has a limited inventory. In addition to cheese, they also roast entire sides of beef for Italian beef sandwiches and prepare homemade frittatas.
"We consider ourselves a specialty grocery store," Caputo said. "So we don't have everything."
It may be limited, but if you're cooking Italian, or just putting together an assortment for a party, chances are you'll find everything you'd ever need.
"So we have cheese, specialty meats, deli, limited grocery items, mostly the Italian products," Caputo said.
Caputo's cheese is available all over the region, but it's typically under a private label. To be sure you're getting the real deal, come to the store - or order from their online store, which is coming soon.
In Steve's Extra Course video, he takes a closer look at the focaccias and Sicilian-style pizzas they sell at the deli.
Caputo Cheese Market
Extra Course: Caputo Cheese Market
1931 N. 15th Ave.
(708) 450 - 0469