have you seen in your research whether Calabro sells retail or cash & carry at their location? I need to spend some time to find the 5 lb blocks, someone around here must carry them. Also, do you know if the retail calabro is the same as the 5lb blocks? I'm working through 6 lb of Napoli foods house brand which is definite step up from retail sorrento or polly-O.
The Napoli sounds similar to Restaurant Depot's private label, Supremo Italiano. The SI is solid, definitely better than retail Sorrento or Polly-O, but I think Saputo is a step up. I believe Mary Ann ranked the SI about the same as Grande, but I might go a bit higher- like a 6.5.
I was on the phone with Calabro's sales rep for about 2 hours and we covered a lot of ground. I know we talked about purchasing the cheese in person, but the details are a bit fuzzy. If memory serves me correctly, she was willing to sell me a loaf if I made the trip, but, because I told her I was sourcing Calabro for both personal use and for clients, I'm not sure she considered me a 'retail' customer. I definitely recall that she mentioned that they don't make 'pizza cheese' all the time and that I should call in advance to make sure they have some on hand.
I would call her. Here are her details:
Calabro Mid-Atlantic Office
She is probably the kindest and most knowledgeable sales rep I've ever dealt with. I invited her to swing by here, and, hopefully, at some point, she will.
If the logistics don't work out with Calabro, you could always touch base with Nick (Gabaghool). http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=12557
since I believe he typically has it on hand and could sell you a loaf. Joey Garlic's could also be less of a trek for you than Calabro.
Regarding retail vs. wholesale Calabro, I think Fiorella might have mentioned something along the lines of the shape of the cheese impacting the way it aged, but I don't believe it was all that consequential, so, for all intents and purposes, yes, the retail and wholesale pizza cheese should be the same.