Stromboli Versus Calzones: Comparing These Two Italian Comfort Classics

If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Italian establishments, you’ve probably found that in addition to a pizza menu, there are frequently options for stromboli or calzones. Both of these dishes are often similar in their preparation and the ingredients they require so if you’ve ever mixed up these two Italian comfort classics before, you’re in good company. After all, to the non-chef, the dishes can often appear strikingly similar. But what exactly are the differences between stromboli and a calzone? If you’ve never had either of them before but would like to try one, where should you begin? In this blog post, we’re talking all about calzones and strombolis. How they’re alike, how they’re different- and finally, which one (if not both!) should you be trying?

The Basics: What is Stromboli 

Before we specify the characteristics of these two decadent dishes, it helps to know where they’re typically found. If you ever find yourself searching for pizza near me, there’s a good chance you’ll quickly run into a place that serves one or both of these options. It will depend on the restaurant, of course, but many pizza, pasta, and Italian restaurants frequently have options for stromboli and calzones. Now that you know where to find them, let’s talk about exactly what they are. 

What is Stromboli? Stromboli is often associated with Italian food, however, while heavily inspired by the cuisine, it is not native to Italy. Rather, stromboli was born in South Philadelphia in the 1950s. It’s no wonder that stromboli quickly became popular, making its way across the United States. Now, it can be found in locations coast to coast, in all types of regions including right here in our Salisbury pizza shop.

This specialty is made with dough on the outside and pizza toppings on the inside.  Stromboli especially makes a great grab-and-go meal because its toppings are tucked inside, versus pizza where everything is exposed. Strombolis are typically rolled in a burrito-like style and are typically better suited for multiple people to enjoy. They are the ultimate grab-and-go comfort food and are easily shareable. 

What goes in a Stromboli? This typically depends on who is preparing the food. Its bready structure makes it easy for sauce to be placed inside, however, a lot of variations tend to come with dipping red sauce on the side. 

Is Stromboli a type of pizza? This question is completely understandable because strombolis are frequently found in pizza restaurants and on a pizza menu. Well, that’s ultimately up to you to decide. All we know for sure is that this delicious turnover is close enough to a pizza to definitely be a cousin if nothing else. At the end of the day, so long as it tastes good- why get caught up on semantics?

The Basics: What is a Calzone?

What is a calzone? Like stromboli and pizza, a calzone is an easy grab-and-go favorite that frequents Italian restaurants. Portable and delicious, a hot calzone is hard to beat. Calzones are prepared quite similarly to pizza. However, the toppings of pizza become fillings, and the dough is folded over in a more taco-like manner. The result? A mouthwatering half-moon shape, jam-packed with goodies.

As for its origins? Well based on Stromboli’s story, one might assume the first calzone could have easily been concocted in a Salisbury pizza place right here in the States. But here’s the kicker, it wasn’t! That’s right, calzones are actually Italian. Due to their popularity in America, and huge association with American pizza parlors, it’s easy to assume that the calzones are also a domestic creation. In actuality, they are, in fact, Italian. The roots of the calzone can be traced all the way back to Naples. Calzone roughly translates to “pants legs” which makes perfect sense considering their mobile nature. 

Calzones are usually cooked in one of two ways, either baked or fried. Both render delicious results, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. In Italy, where the calzone was born, they refer to the fried rendition as ‘panzerotti’. The roots of panzerotti can be traced all the way back to Apulia, Apulia, a coastal town that sits on the opposite side of Naples.  Thankfully, here in America, all you’ll need to search is pizza near me and you’ll be sure to find a shop that serves up these delectable pockets of pizza.

What goes in a calzone? This is where stromboli and calzones are nearly identical. Essentially, they share very similar filling options. Both dishes often feature popular Italian meats like ham and meatballs, in addition to all kinds of vegetables and of course- cheese. Ultimately, there are countless combinations. 

Is a calzone a type of pizza? Again, the answer to this question will vary depending on whom you ask. For what it’s worth, many in Italy refer to calzones as pizze fritte or “fried pizzas”. 

Comparing and contrasting the Stromboli and Calzone

Now that you have a bassline understanding of both dishes, what are the main differences between the two? Hopefully, by breaking it down, you’ll feel confident ordering your preferred fold-over the next time you see them on a pizza menu. Here are some notable differences to help you remember:

Sealing technique: As discussed previously, an easy way to remember these techniques is by thinking of them as burritos and tacos. A calzone favors a taco-style seal, while stromboli is more like burritos. Both benefit from an egg wash to help keep everything intact.

Shape and Size: Naturally, different folding techniques will determine the shape and size. The main reason for these different shapes boils down to how the dishes are served. Stromboli is generally meant to be cut up into pieces and served amongst several. 

Fillings: As discussed, there are a lot of crossovers between the two. However, there are two distinct features that set them apart, cheese and sauce. These aren’t hard and fast rules per se, but you might commonly see them in practice in your Salisbury pizza joint and beyond. Calzones typically use ricotta amongst other cheeses whereas stromboli implements mozzarella. As per sauce? Calzones aren’t meant to have sauce on the inside, whereas stromboli is built to internally accommodate sauce (if you prefer it). 

The Final Verdict?

Both of these comfort dishes are a stronghold in Italian restaurants. You can share them or savor them; the choice is yours. Regardless of what you choose, if you’re a fan of decadent dough and flavorful vegetable, cheese, and meat fillings it’s hard to go wrong with either.