The Difference Between A Calzone And Stromboli

It's no exaggeration to say that people are obsessed with pizza in the United States, but the calzone and the stromboli have a particular place in people's hearts right along with it. Oh sure, people have an unadulterated passion for Chicago, New York, and California-style pizza, but there is something about pizza stretched into new shapes that makes people go wild for the food. 

The pizza we obsess over today didn't take off in the United States until Italian immigrants popularized it during the 20th century (via History Today). But along with the disk-shaped food, they also brought its pocket-sized brother: the calzone. And after a few decades of pizza and calzone-filled enjoyment, Americans decide to invent their own pizza creation: the stromboli. There is no argument that both strombolis and calzones are pizzas transfigured into fun shapes, but they definitely stand on their own two legs here in the United States. If you ask for a calzone but get stromboli, there would definitely be a heated exchange. Calzones and strombolis are not interchangeable though they are derived from the classic Italian pizza recipe. So, what makes calzones and strombolis so different from one another?

What is a calzone?

Odds are, if you're as obsessed with pizza as the rest of the world is, you've had a calzone before. All that cheesy goodness encapsulated in a golden crust that's just waiting to be cut into is as delicious as any good pizza. Spizzico Restaurant claims that the original calzone was invented during the 18th century in Naples, Italy around the same time as the flat pizza. The Italians needed a delicious street food that could be eaten while on the move, and the calzone (which translates to "trouser" in Italian) fulfilled that need. They were originally small or sandwich-sized and contained no sauce so it wouldn't drip. However, in the United States today, where Italian food has a special place in people's hearts, the calzone is made very large and can easily be shared between two people.

Lacucina Italiana says that in Naples there are still calzone vendors making the traditional meals, using flour, water, oil, salt, and leaven for the dough and folding it into a half circle to be baked or fried. Today, Neapolitan calzones are considered a classic and well-beloved kind of pocket pizza, using ricotta and provolone cheese, pecorino cheese, and salami, though there are other kinds like sausage kale and ricotta calzones available now. Calzones as a whole are celebrated in the U.S. on November 1st every year, so when that day rolls around, stroll over to your local pizza joint and celebrate National Calzone day (via National Days Today).

What is a stromboli?

Strombolis and calzones, while loved by pizza enthusiasts, are not the same thing. Oh, sure they have the sauce and the toppings stuffed inside with dough wrapped around it in a similar way, but, according to Slice Life, strombolis are more akin to chopped-up pizza "burritos" whereas calzones are sealed pizza "tacos" meant for one. Another thing that makes the stromboli different from the calzone is where it was invented. Calzones are just as old, if not older, than the founding of the United States, whereas the stromboli was invented during the 1950s in none other than Philadelphia.

The City of Brotherly Love is known for many delicious culinary inventions, including the cheesesteak and tomato pie, but the stromboli — with its warm crust and ham, cheese, and peppers-stuffed center — holds a special place in our hearts. San Pellegrino Fruit Beverages says that the stromboli differs from the calzone because its dough is rectangular in shape and it's then rolled and sealed. The calzone, in contrast, is a circle folded once in half. The filling is notably different too. Though calzones and strombolis can technically be customized to the diner's wishes, a stromboli is typically stuffed with ham, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. 

At the end of the day, there are some variations regarding fillings and sauces, and you can even make a cheesesteak stromboli if you so crave it. However, whether you buy one or the other depends on where you are and how you like to eat your pizza.