What Is The Difference Between A Stromboli And A Calzone?

In the rich tapestry of Italian cuisine, two standout dishes often spark culinary debate and curiosity: the Stromboli and the Calzone. Both herald from the cherished tradition of Italian pizza-making, yet each carves its unique identity through distinct preparation methods, ingredients, and cultural stories. This exploration into the “Difference Between a Stromboli and a Calzone” serves not just as a guide to distinguishing these beloved dishes but as an invitation to delve into the heart of Italian culinary artistry. As we peel back the layers of dough, cheese, and fillings, we uncover more than just the technical disparities; we reveal the historical origins, regional variations, and cultural significances that have shaped these dishes into the icons they are today.

Crafted with both the culinary enthusiast and the curious diner in mind, this article promises to enrich your understanding and appreciation of Italian cuisine. Whether you’re looking to impress at your next dinner party, considering experimenting in your own kitchen, or simply aiming to make an informed choice at your local Italian eatery, the insights gathered here will equip you with the knowledge to do so. Through expert analysis, chef interviews, and a deep dive into the doughy depths of Stromboli and Calzone, we invite you on a gastronomic journey that promises to enlighten, inspire, and tantalize your taste buds. Prepare to have your curiosity piqued and your appetite whetted as we embark on this delicious exploration.

A Brief History of Two Italian Culinary Cousins

A Brief History of Two Italian Culinary Cousins

Stromboli and Calzone may seem interchangeable but their backgrounds reveal how they diverged.

The Italian-American Origins of Stromboli

While Italy claims the calzone, the stromboli was born in America. Its creation is linked to Italian immigrants in Philadelphia in the 1950s. The most popular legend centers on Nazzareno “Natale” Stromboli, a baker in Philly’s Italian Market. He experimentally rolled up meats and cheeses in pizza dough to craft a new turnover. After tasting this savory spiral, a customer exclaimed, “That’s like a stromboli!” The moniker stuck. So while not Italian per se, stromboli evokes the creativity of Italian-American communities. The dish endures today as a staple in pizzerias and sandwich shops nationwide.

Calzone’s Neapolitan Roots

Calzone dates back centuries to Naples, Italy. Its name means “trouser” in Italian, resembling closed pants. Traditionally, calzone contained ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and tomatoes or leafy greens. Anchovies, cured meats, or mushrooms were sometimes added. This half-moon stuffed flatbread was a Neapolitan specialty. But when Italian immigrants arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s, the calzone changed form. American-style calzones tend to be larger, doughier, and more liberally filled than their Italian forerunners. So while calzone has Italian origins, the Americanized calzone offers its own unique indulgence.

Dough, Shape, and Texture

Since Stromboli and calzone start from pizza dough, differences in dough and shape impact the final product.

Stretchy, Thin Stromboli Dough

Stromboli dough is rolled thin, around 1⁄4 inch, to allow for lots of irresistible fillings. The dough gets stretched and flattened before rolling into a long log shape. This creates a thin, crisp outer layer that holds an abundance of ooey, gooey fillings.

Thicker, Breadier Calzone Dough

Calzones use a dough that’s about 1⁄2 inch thick before getting folded and sealed. The dough itself often has more yeast, olive oil, and sometimes, sugar. This imparts a breadier, chewier texture and bready taste. Shaping also affects the final dough texture. Stromboli dough gets stretched and flattened, while calzone dough gets folded over the filling without an initial thinning.

The All-Important Outer Crunch

Despite differences in thinness, both stromboli and calzone doughs get nice and crisp on the outside when baked. This contrasts deliciously with the soft, melty centers. Frying can also impart crunch. While baking remains traditional, some make fried stromboli for an ultra-crispy crust.

Traditional and Trendy Fillings

When it comes to fillings, traditionalists look to meats, cheeses, and veggies. But contemporary chefs get creative with eclectic ingredients.

Customizable Stromboli Fillings

Stromboli often overflows with fillings like pepperoni, salami, capicola, peppers, onions, Italian cheeses, tomatoes, or mushrooms. Creative riffs might include spinach and feta, buffalo chicken, or bbq pulled pork. The fillings get layered generously from edge to edge.

Traditional Calzone Fillings

Ricotta imparts creaminess and mozzarella gives stretch inside a classic calzone. Parmesan or pecorino add salty, nutty notes. Traditional vegetable fillings include spinach, broccoli rabe, mushrooms, or onions. Pepperoni, salami, or prosciutto offer cured meat savor.

Innovative, Modern Fillings

Contemporary calzones experiment with unconventional fillings like chicken tikka masala, Cuban pork shoulder, or shrimp and grits. Food trucks offer novel combinations like mac and cheese calzones or Thai chicken. The half-moon shape containment allows endless creativity.

How Are Strombolis And Calzones Made?

Strombolis and calzones are both delicious Italian-American dishes with distinct differences in their preparation. Here’s how they are made:

Calzone Recipe

  • Ingredients: Calzones are made with pizza or bread dough, filled with cheese (usually ricotta), cured meats, vegetables, and other toppings.
  • Preparation: Roll out the dough into a small circle, add toppings on one half, fold the other half over to form a half-moon shape, crimp the edges to seal, and brush with an egg wash.
  • Cooking: Baked until golden brown and served with marinara sauce for dipping.

Stromboli Recipe

  • Ingredients: Strombolis are made with pizza dough, mozzarella cheese, cured meats, vegetables, and various fillings.
  • Preparation: Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, add fillings on top, fold one long side over the middle, then fold the other side on top like a letter. Roll into a log shape.
  • Cooking: Baked until browned and bubbly, then sliced into servings.

In summary, calzones are folded in half like a taco with a circular shape and typically contain ricotta cheese and no sauce inside the dough. On the other hand, strombolis are rolled like a burrito with rectangular dough, filled with mozzarella cheese and sauce inside before baking. Both dishes offer a delightful combination of flavors and textures that make them popular choices in Italian cuisine.

Baking vs. Frying: Cooking Methods and Outcomes

When it comes to cooking methods, stromboli and calzone typically get baked. But other approaches like frying or grilling offer tasty alternatives.

Baking: The OG Cooking Method

Baking gives both dishes a crispy browned crust with piping hot innards. Traditional recipes call for baking on pizza stones or steel at 500F for 8-15 minutes. The high heat quickly crisps the dough without overdrying. Baking locks in moisture and mingles flavors through evenly distributed heat. It allows the abundant cheeses to melt deliciously inside.

Pan Frying for Crunch and Convenience

While baking makes the most authentic, frying offers quicker cooking and ultra-crispiness. Pan-frying in olive oil on medium high temp (375F) browns the dough swiftly. It takes only 2-4 minutes per side. Frying gives “fried stromboli” an irresistible outer crunch. It also lets you cook single portions rather than a whole batch. Ideal for appetizers or snacks.

Grilling for Smoky, Charred Appeal

Grilling imparts attractive charred bits and smoky essence. It works best for smaller stromboli or bite-sized calzones. Opt for direct, high heat (450-500F) for 2-5 minutes per side. Grilled stromboli and calzone make fantastic party starters or game day treats. The grill marks and aroma amp up the flavor.

Recommended Tools for Stuffing Success

Recommended Tools for Stuffing Success

Crafting homemade stromboli and calzone does take some specialty tools. Having the right equipment makes the process foolproof.

For Stretching and Shaping Dough

A long wooden pizza peel helps shape dough and slide it onto the oven’s hot surface. A pizza cutter evenly slices rolled stromboli. Sharp kitchen shears cut calzones before sealing. And a roller lets you stretch dough thin.

For Crimping and Sealing

A fork tines-down presses calzone edges closed. An inverted drinking glass also seals the dough. For extra adherence, try a baking spray like PAM for flourless sealing. For stromboli, parchment paper helps roll lengthwise without sticking. Brushing water along one edge also adheres the dough.

For Baking and Cooking

Baking stones, pizza steels or cast iron pizza pans all create that essentialcrispycrust. For frying, use a heavy stainless steel skillet with at least 2-inch sides. And have a sturdy spatula for flipping.

Regional and Cultural Variations Worth Exploring

Beyond the classic versions, stromboli and calzone vary across Italian regions and with cultural traditions.

Italian Regional Specialties

In Rome, stromboli-like snacks called tigelle get stuffed with prosciutto, salami, and pecorino. Sicilian sfincione resembles pizza but with thicker breadier dough. Traditional sfincione contains tomatoes, onions, anchovies, and caciocavallo cheese. Calabria’s panzerotti feature smaller half-moon shapes filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pork sausage, and mushrooms.

Cultural and Family Customs

Many Italian-American families craft stromboli for Christmas Eve dinners, or calzones for midnight treats on New Years Eve. The half-moon shape even symbolizes luck. Beyond Italian tradition, Latin cultures like Puerto Rican pasteles, Brazilian pastéis, or empanadas from across South America offer similar stuffed doughs. Exploring cultural varieties opens up new possibilities.

Crafting Crowd-Pleasing Stromboli and Calzone at Home

OK, ready to get cooking? Here are helpful tips for DIY stromboli and calzone.

Handling Homemade Dough

While store-bought dough works, many prefer homemade. Handling delicate dough can seem intimidating for beginners. But with practice, anyone can master it. Be sure to let dough come to room temp before stretching – this prevents it from snapping back. Always flour work surfaces, hands, and rolling pins to prevent sticking. If dough tears, just pinch and pat it together. Imperfections won’t matter once baked!

Picking Inspired Fillings

When deciding fillings, contrast flavors and textures. Pair fatty meats with tart cheeses, or add crunch with peppers and onions. Get creative with themes like Greek (spinach, feta, olives) or make cheeseburger inspired versions. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey or ham also works deliciously.

Time and Temperature Nuances

For baking, 10 minutes at 500F suits most stromboli and small calzone. Increase time for very large or thick versions. Frying on medium-high (375F) takes just 2-4 minutes per greased side. Let all cool at least 5 minutes before eating to avoid burning mouths!

Healthy Alternatives for Dietary Needs

Healthy Alternatives for Dietary Needs

With some easy tweaks, you can craft lighter stromboli and calzone for restricted diets.

  • Low-Carb Options: Substitute cauliflower crust or high-protein pizza dough as the base. For lower carb fillings, use turkey pepperoni, shredded chicken, or lean prosciutto. Load up on low-carb veggies like spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms.
  • Gluten-Free and Vegan Versions: Look for gluten-free pizza dough made from rice or almond flours. Fill with dairy-free cheeses like vegan mozzarella. Vegans can use marinara sauce instead of cheese fillings.
  • Paleo and Whole Food Adaptations: Almond flour or coconut flour crusts keep it paleo. Fill with grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, or uncured bacon along with veggies. Or simply hollow out a baked sweet potato and stuff it for a whole food stromboli.

Which is healthier Stromboli or Calzone?

Stromboli and calzone are both delicious Italian dishes, but when it comes to health, the calzone is generally considered healthier than the stromboli. Calzones are often smaller in size and can be filled with healthier ingredients like ricotta cheese and vegetables, making them a lighter option compared to strombolis which are typically larger and may contain heavier fillings like mozzarella and cured meats. So, if you’re looking for a healthier choice between the two, opting for a calzone with lighter fillings like ricotta and vegetables would be the better option.

Conclusion: Difference between a stromboli and a calzone?

So, as you can see, Strombolis and Calzones are both delicious Italian dishes that have been enjoyed for centuries. But they do have their differences. The dough for a stromboli is rolled out into a flat rectangular shape while the calzone dough is kneaded and formed into a round. Additionally, the crust of a Stromboli is thin and flaky whereas the crust of a Calzone is thicker and more dense. The ingredients used in each type of dish may also vary slightly with calzones usually containing more cheese than strombolis. So when it comes time to settle your next Italian cravings debate between these two treats, remember these distinctions so that you get exactly what you’re looking for.