I think you make a good point regarding “tapas.” The whole “small plates” thing remains big here and that’s when I’ll see cheeses offered. I just spot checked Per Se, TFL and Jean Georges. None of them specifically mention cheeses.
I should add that in some places in Italy you will sometimes see cheese offered as a main course, after the pasta, not just a dessert course. Tourists have embraced the insalata caprese – fresh mozzarella with fresh tomatoes and fresh basil – as a starter course, but typically southern Italians would eat it as a second main course, or as a complete lunch. In some of the parts of central and northern Italy where pasta is eggy and rich and the red wine is very strong, people will sometimes order cheese for their only main course instead of meat. The Slow Food movement seems to be putting more cheese on restaurant menus, plus the inclination of some Italians to become vegetarians.
But you can go for quite some distance in many parts of Italy and not find much cheese, or that is being used only sparingly. A great deal of Italy is totally unsuited for grazing animals, and there is no great distribution system for cheeses within Italy (or much demand for non-local cheese but for what Eataly and the like is creating in big urban centers).
I wont deny the sterotype of food drenched in cheap cheese sure it exists everywhere. Tex Mex and Italian American are often great offenders but I would not place Florida as one of the US’s great dairy regions and cheese would not be on my list of expectations there. PA has some truly fine cheesemaking going on and it is often featured on local menus. Here in Philly at a decent restaurant I would be dissapointed with inferior cheese.
Oh “arsed” isn’t really unfriendly. It’s just a jokily modern alternative to “bothered”. The Queen was once caught on microphone saying to Prince Philip: “I can’t be arsed to cook tonight, let’s order a delivery pizza”.
Yes you are! And fortunate