Fine Italian cheese in northeast Indiana? Two Italian entrepreneurs are making it happen

If you drive down a country road in northeast Indiana, you’ll notice that farms and production facilities dot the landscape.

What you might not know is that one of the newest additions to the region's food production scene is anything, but ordinary.

Golfo di Napoli Dairy is an Italian-owned organic cheese manufacturing facility and caffè in Warren, Ind., that’s carving out a niche in Huntington County. The company's owners, who still live in Italy and travel to the U.S. for business, also launched a restaurant on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago called the Mozzarella Store Pizza & Caffe, which showcases their products.

The Golfo Di Napoli Dairy has a cheese production facility and caffè onsite.

So why produce fine Italian cheese in Huntington County, of all places? Marketing Coordinator Stacy Wolfe says the location plays an important role in the business.

According to a report from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana ranks 14th in the nation in milk production.

In other words, the state presents an opportunity for global agribusiness ventures, like niche dairies. 

“We wanted to use locally-sourced milk, and we wanted to be organic,” Wolfe says. “Of course, Indiana is known for its farmland, which makes it easy to source milk. The other reason why we chose Warren is its proximity to I-69, which makes it possible to distribute our product everywhere within the United States.” 

Golfo di Napoli is located at 7916 S. Warren Rd.

As Wolfe notes, the dairy sends Chicago weekly shipments from its Warren location, so being close to a highway makes trucking between the plant and restaurant convenient. And for Hoosiers in northeast Indiana, a Warren location means they can find locally-sourced, world-class cheese at a caffè right in their backyards.

Kim Chaney works on preparing an Antipasto Salad at the Golfo Di Napoli Dairy Caffè.

According to Wolfe, it was the vision of a father-daughter team, Antonio and Giorgia Somma, that brought them to Warren, literally and figuratively. Antonio is an Italian entrepreneur who saw an opportunity and acted on it. In his travels stateside, he noticed a gap in quality between the Italian cheeses in Italy and those produced in the United States. It was his vision to bring his culture and Italian traditions overseas, so he got to work.

Golfo di Napoli, which is a nod to his family's ancestral land, opened in August 2019. Not only is the owner 100 percent Italian, but the people who have built the state-of-the-art production plant hail from the southern European country, as well. Their production machines were all imported from Italy and installed by Italian mechanics.

The bottom line: The process is truly Italian with a northeast Indiana twist, and this differentiator has worked to the dairy's advantage.

A machine that creates various sizes of mozzarella balls is included with the various equipment at the Golfo di Napoli Dairy.

Wolfe says Golfo di Napoli produces on average 4,000 pounds of cheese per week, and anyone who comes to the caffè is in for a treat. Along with cheese, they serve other Italian fare and have live music on the weekends. 

But as Wolfe explains, the caffè atmosphere is one of nuance.

“It's an authentic Italian caffè, so we don't do pizza. We don't do pasta,” she says.

Morgan Zanzinger works on making a Zingara Sandwich out of Ciabatta bread.

Instead, they serve sandwiches, soups, salads, and other dishes made with their house cheese. When it comes to cheese, they make mozzarella, burrata, ricotta, and other dairy products on site. 

While you can’t go wrong with any of them, Wolfe says guests have already spoken for their favorites.

“We’re seeing our ricotta is clearly the frontrunner, as far as our most in-demand, followed closely by our smoked caciocavallo,” she says.

Provolone, which is aged 4-5 months, hangs up at the Golfo di Napoli Dairy.

Across the board, Wolfe says you can taste the difference in the organic production.

"The best way I can describe our cheeses is absolute freshness," she says.

Speaking of fresh, Wolfe says the dairy is working to source more of their produce from local farmers and producers, too. 

A chocolate chip cannoli at the Golfo Di Napoli Dairy Caffè.

Hailing from the Warren area herself, she says guests have come from near and far to see what Golfo di Napoli has to offer.

“I see familiar faces every single day from the community, which I think is awesome,” Wolfe says. “But we also have an impact in that we're pulling people off of I-69 who are traveling between Michigan and Indianapolis. We even had a review from someone as far away as Key West, Fla.”

Learn more

Golfo di Napoli Dairy Caffè is located at 7916 S. Warren Rd. To learn more, visit its website. To make a reservation, call (260) 355–5975.

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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