If you’re a pizza lover, you’ve most likely heard of calzone, stromboli, and panzerotti. After all, all of these are pizza variations made with some of the same ingredients.
However, they are still distinct dishes, so if you’re going to order any of these at a restaurant or try making them at home, it’s important to know the difference.
The main differences between calzone, panzerotti, and stromboli are their shapes.
Panzerotti and calzone have similar shapes, while stromboli is a little different. There are also differences in the cooking methods and sizes of these pizza derivatives.
If you’re interested in learning about the differences between these three delicious takes on pizza, read on!
We’re going to be covering the origins and basics of calzone vs. stromboli vs. panzerotti, plus how to make each one, so you’ll have all the information you need!
Introduction To Calzone
A calzone is basically a pizza, except it’s been turned in on itself. You might refer to it as an inverted pizza.
The dough is on the outside, and the ingredients that would usually form the topping of the pizza are inside as a filling.
The name ‘calzone’ is Italian for ‘trouser leg’ or ‘stocking’, depending on the exact translation you’re familiar with. It’s so named because the dough is stuffed with cheese and other ingredients.
If you find yourself in Italy, you might hear calzones being called ‘pizza ripieno’, which literally means ‘stuffed pizza’.
The calzone has its origins in Italy, which is hardly surprising since Italy is where pizza originally comes from. Specifically, the first calzone was made in Naples, which is also the home of the original pizza.
If you’re wondering why the calzone was invented, it was essentially designed as a more practical alternative to the traditional pizza.
Eating a pizza on the go is easier said than done because it’s hard to hold a pizza slice while walking without the toppings falling off.
With a calzone, you can eat it as you walk because the toppings are safely contained inside the dough.
While the original idea of the calzone was for workers to eat it on the street during their lunch break instead of having to sit down somewhere, you can now find calzones served in Italian restaurants around the world!
How Calzone Is Made
Despite the fact that a calzone is pretty much a folded pizza, you can’t simply make a pizza and fold it in half and call it a calzone.
There’s a specific process behind making an authentic calzone, and while some of the steps are similar to making a pizza, the process has some unique elements, too.
Making Calzone Dough
Just like a pizza, the first step to making a calzone is preparing the dough.
Most of the time, calzones are made with exactly the same dough as pizzas are made with, although it’s also possible to use a bread dough to change the texture of the crust.
Start by stretching out the dough and rolling it, so it forms a circle shape. Then, it will be ready for your filling.
Take care when applying the filling to your calzone dough. The process is not the same as adding toppings to a pizza.
Firstly, whereas your traditional pizza always has tomato sauce as a base, this is not the case with a calzone.
Remember, calzones are designed to be easy to eat, and if you fill your calzone with liquid tomato, it will make the dough soggy and make a mess when you bite into it.
Because of this, calzones are usually filled with a combination of meat, cheese, and vegetables.
For example, you might add mozzarella, ricotta, or Parmesan cheese to your calzone, along with your choice of protein (pepperoni, Italian sausage, salami, prosciutto, and bresaola are all good options).
Then, you can add vegetables such as sun-dried tomatoes, olives, spinach, peppers, or onions, and season with salt and pepper, basil, or parsley.
When making a pizza, you would add the toppings all over the base, with the exception of the surrounding edge, which is the crust.
However, for a calzone, you’ll want to add the filling ingredients to just one half of your base.
Adding fillings to only half of the dough means that you can fold the other half over the top into a crescent shape without worrying about making a mess.
Sealing Your Calzone
Of course, before you can bake your calzone, you will need to make sure it’s properly sealed. This will stop the fillings from falling out during or after the baking process.
Once you have folded your calzone in half, the best way to seal the dough is to crimp the edges.
Start by applying an egg wash to moisten the edges of the crescent. Then, use a fork to press the layers of dough together where the edges meet.
Add more egg wash to the top of the calzone, and gently create a couple of small slits in the top so that steam can escape through the top of the calzone.
How To Bake A Calzone
You can bake a calzone either in a pizza oven or a regular oven. Regardless of what kind of oven you’re working with, you’ll probably need to bake your calzone for anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes.
In some regions of Italy, it’s customary to fry the calzone, although many people consider this to be more of a panzerotti than a calzone (see below).
Introduction To Panzerotti
Panzerotti are often referred to as ‘hot pockets’, or pizza pockets.
These are very similar to calzone, from the shape all the way down to some of the ingredients, with the main difference being that they are usually fried rather than baked.
The word ‘panzerotti’ is derived from the word ‘panza’, which means ‘belly’ in Italian. This is because of the way that the dough rises during the frying process.
If you go to Italy, you will probably hear people asking for ‘pizza fritti’, which means fried pizza.
The original birthplace of panzerotti is Southern and Central Italy, with the snack being most popular in the region of Puglia.
While there’s no evidence of where and how exactly the panzerotti originated, there is a common story of a baker being unsure what to do with some leftover bread dough, and deciding to fill it with tomato and cheese before frying it.
Despite originating from Italy, panzerotti are now very common in America, particularly in Jersey, so you should try one for yourself when you can!
How Panzerotti Is Made
So, how do you make panzerotti? The first step is very similar to how you would make a calzone, although when it comes to the fillings and cooking process, there are some key differences you’ll need to observe if you don’t want your panzerotti to be referred to as a calzone!
Contrary to popular belief, panzerotti is not made with regular pizza dough.
In fact, it’s more common to make panzerotti dough with double zero flour, which means that dough is more similar to bread dough than traditional pizza dough.
Because panzerotti are smaller than both regular pizzas and calzones, you won’t want to make your dough as wide in diameter as you would for either of the other dishes.
When rolling out your dough, try to make it smaller, since panzerotti are not usually larger than about 9 inches.
Fillings For Panzerotti
Filling panzerotti is similar to filling a calzone in some ways, but in other ways, it’s a very different process.
To start with the main similarity, you will want to distribute your panzerotti toppings the same as you would when making a calzone.
The fillings should only cover half of your circle of dough, because again, you’re going to need to fold it over.
The traditional panzerotti filling consists of the classic combination of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
However, if you visit Naples, you’ll see that the filling often also contains ciccioli pork, whereas in Puglia, broccoli rabe is combined with cheese without the tomato sauce.
Now that panzerotti have gained popularity in America and elsewhere in the world, there are many more fillings to choose from.
You can find panzerotti filled with exciting fillings like pineapple, anchovies, chestnut spread, ricotta cheese, and so much more!
So, when making panzerotti, don’t be afraid to experiment and add the fillings you enjoy most.
Panzerotti Sealing Method
Sealing panzerotti is a similar process to sealing a calzone, but since panzerotti are fried, you’ll need to make sure you seal it absolutely perfectly, because if the edges come undone during the frying process, you’re going to have a problem.
Crimp the edges thoroughly using a fork after folding the dough over the toppings. There is no need for egg wash here because you won’t be baking it.
To cook your panzerotti, use a deep skillet or a similarly deep pan. Turn the heat up high to avoid soaking your dough in oil for too long before it cooks.
When it comes to choosing your oil, we recommend going with peanut oil, because it has a higher smoke point than most oils and smells delicious.
Fry the folded crescent until it turns golden brown on both sides, at which point, you’ll know it’s ready to eat. Just make sure to let it cool down a bit first!
Introduction To Stromboli
Stromboli looks different from both calzone and panzerotti. Its shape is the main thing that sets it apart from the other two dishes.
It basically looks like a cinnamon roll, except it’s savory, and the filling comprises many beloved pizza toppings.
Usually, stromboli are served with a tomato sauce on the side so that you can dip your pizza wheels into the sauce while you eat.
Stromboli was invented at some point in the 1950s by the United States’ Italian-American community.
Stromboli is not a traditional Italian dish, so you probably won’t find it in Italy, but it’s pretty easy to find in Philadelphia.
Stromboli was created by Nazzareno Romano, who was the owner of Philadelphia’s Romano’s Pizzas restaurant at the time. Originally a fun experiment, this dish quickly became a favorite.
It’s not clear whether the name ‘Stromboli’ was inspired by Roberto Rossellini’s movie or the island, but either way, it’s one of the most popular savory snacks in Philadelphia to this day.
How Stromboli Is Made
Stromboli is made using a lot of the same ingredients and techniques as you would use to make a calzone, but you’ll need to pay attention to the differences in the shape and dough.
You can use pizza dough to make stromboli, but it should be rolled thinner than you would if you were making an actual pizza.
It’s important for the dough not to outweigh the fillings, since each slice of stromboli should be a mouthful of filling contained in dough.
Try to roll your dough into a rectangle rather than a circle. Aim to make the rectangle roughly 25 inches by 16 inches.
Filling stromboli is a bit more complicated than filling a calzone or topping a pizza.
This is because you’ll need to leave about five inches of space at the end where you’ll be folding the dough, as well as a full inch of space all around the edge.
Classic stromboli fillings include cold meats like pepperoni, deli ham, salami, and bresaola.
You can also add cheese such as mozzarella or provolone, but bear in mind that these should be sliced and not grated. To contribute extra flavor, season with fresh basil, salt, and pepper.
While stromboli do contain pizza sauce usually, you should try not to add too much, or you might end up with soggy dough.
If you’re concerned about this, it might be best to leave it out entirely. After all, you’ll be enjoying your stromboli with tomato dipping sauce, anyway.
If you want to leave out the pizza sauce but don’t want your dough to get too dry, we recommend getting a little bit of garlic butter and applying it to the dough with a pastry brush.
This will also allow you to add some Parmesan cheese along with herbs and other types of seasoning without it falling off the dough.
You don’t seal stromboli by crimping the edges as you would a calzone or panzerotti. Instead, you’ll need to fold the dough over the fillings like a burrito.
Roll the dough into a long, sausage-like shape after adding the filling, and use a burrito folding technique to seal the end. Once you’re finished, it should look like a cigar.
Stromboli Baking Process
Stromboli should be baked for about 25 minutes in the oven.
You can moisten the dough with some egg wash, although if you’ve used the garlic butter technique and added cheese, you don’t need to add any more moisture.
Let the stromboli cool down for a few minutes before serving, and cut into thick slices to serve with some tomato sauce.
Panzerotti vs. Calzone vs. Stromboli Overview
|Country of Origin
|Shape and Size
|Baked or Fried?
|Cheese, pizza sauce, and meats
|Traditional pizza toppings
|Cheese, deli meats, and tomato sauce (optional)
|For dipping and inside (optional)
Although calzone, panzerotti, and stromboli are all takes on the traditional pizza, they have some key differences.
Calzone and panzerotti are both crescent-shaped, but panzerotti does not contain tomato sauce and is fried rather than baked.
Additionally, panzerotti is usually made with a bread dough rather than pizza dough.
Stromboli is different from both calzone and panzerotti. Stromboli originated in America rather than Italy, and it’s cigar-shaped rather than crescent shaped.
It’s filled with deli meats and slices of cheese, as opposed to grated cheese, and is usually served with a side of tomato sauce for dipping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can keep a calzone in a refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days, or you can store it for anywhere up to 2 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to reheat it, put it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can technically bake a panzerotti if you want to avoid extra calories from the oil.
However, it is traditionally a fried dish, and you might be told that your creation is actually a calzone if you bake it.
However, if you’ve added tomato sauce to your panzerotti, you can refute this.
There are two theories about the name ‘Stromboli’. Some people think it’s related to the movie of the same name.
However, there’s also a theory that the dish is named after the volcanic island because of the way the ingredients look inside the cigar-shaped dough.