Published July 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
Can any domestic provolone stand up to those produced in Italy?
To most Americans, provolone means a low-rent domestic cheese with a flavor so mild it might as well be processed. It Italy, provolone is an esteemed cheese produced under strict DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) laws and aged up to five years. We bought a young Italian provolone (aged 60 days) from a specialty cheese shop and pitted it against five national brands of presliced domestic cheese. The Italian provolone boasted "bold," "nutty," "complex" flavor, while the domestic cheeses were generally "bland" and "plasticky." For recipes that call for melted provolone, the top-rated domestic provolone is acceptable—but don't serve it on your cheese plate.