Stromboli vs Calzone? Difference Explained by an Italian Foodie
Discovering the differences and origins of two delicious Italian dishes
There are many similarities between stromboli and calzone, two delectable Italian staples. Yet, real connoisseurs will be quick to spot the underlying differences that make each one simply unique and incomparable. While both are made with pizza dough and tasty fillings, their ingredients, shapes, cooking methods, and origins vary significantly.
One is shaped into a half-moon, the other is rolled; one features the typical pizza ingredients while the other is typically filled with cold cuts; one is unmistakably and quintessentially Italian while the other is…well, not that much Italian after all.
But before revealing too much, let’s briefly delve into each one separately and then look at a few of the main distinguishing features and how they relate to each unique recipe.
Literally translated as trousers, calzone is essentially a folded pizza in which the edges are sealed to create a half-moon or, as the name implies, a trouser pocket-like shape.
The dough is typically made with the same ingredients used for traditional pizza, flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes a dash of olive oil, and it is then filled with the traditional pizza toppings.
Named after the Italian volcanic island, a Stromboli is a type of baked turnover made with pizza dough and stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Its spiral shape makes it the perfect scrumptious snack for an on-the-go lunch.
So, what are the main differences between the two?
The shape is probably the core difference between these two dishes. They both start off as a circular pizza but ultimately the calzone is folded in two, resembling an inflated half-moon with the edges sealed with a fork, while the Stromboli is rolled into a long cylinder.
The filling is another important difference as the calzone is typically stuffed with the same ingredients you might find on a pizzas, such as tomato sauce, cheese, mushroom, anchovies, artichokes, and capers. These ingredients are enclosed within the folded dough, which is then baked until the crust becomes beautifully golden and crispy.
The Stromboli, on the other hand, is typically filled with a greater variety of ingredients, including Italian cold cuts such as prosciutto crudo and salami, along with cheese and sometimes certain vegetables. However, while the calzone uses ricotta as its core cheese, the Stromboli is almost never made with ricotta but uses mozzarella cheese instead.
The way these dishes are served represents another difference between the two. First of all, Stromboli is almost always categorically served with a sauce or salsa on the side for dipping, as this is not technically part of the baked turnover itself. The calzone, instead, features a thin layer of sauce right on top.
When the calzone has almost finished baking, a thin layer of tomato sauce, basil and sometimes even cheese, is placed on top and it is then baked for another few minutes before being ready to eat. Moreover, while the latter generally serves one portion, the Stromboli can be shared with others as it is often sliced into small rounds and savored as an antipasto.
4. History and Origins
The origins and history of the calzone and Stromboli is really what characterizes the authenticity of the two dishes. Indeed, the former is a classic Neapolitan food, having originated as a popular street food in Naples in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In fact, calzone was historically a convenient and practical way to enjoy pizza on the go, yet today this ancient custom has been lost and today they are more typically found in restaurants.
The stromboli recipe was not developed in Italy.
However, the Stromboli, does dig its roots in Italian culture but, despite its name, it was not born in Italy.
The Stromboli originated within the Italian community of Philadelphia in the 1950s, where the great majority of Italians living there fused the cooking techniques reminiscent of their homeland with local American culinary customs, creating a gastronomic invention which gained popularity very quickly.
The exact origins of the dish are still widely debated, but there is significant evidence supporting the idea that it was thanks to Nazzareno Romano, owner of Romano’s Pizzeria, who invented the Stromboli as an easy and handy meal for the local coal miners and steelworkers. There are also claims that Stromboli might have even been inspired by the actual calzone!
There is no evidence for this, but what is clear is that, despite their characteristic differences, these two delectable dishes share indeed a common essence. And the differences that distinguish them are precisely what make each one incomparably unique!