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Now I'm Confused: What is a Stromboli and What is a Calzone?

I was listening to a radio talk show today and the topic of what ingridients are found in a stromboli versus what are found in a calzone was discussed. And during the discussion it was made clear by the hosts (via both personal experience and "wikipedia") that a calzone is shaped like a half moon and is basically a pizza turned over while a stromboli is more tubular or loaf like and is filled with ricotto instead of mozzerella and no marinara. But where I was raised (Delaware County, PA) it was the exact opposite. So what's the deal?


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  1. I had never even heard of a Stromboli until I moved to Central PA. In NYC and even upstate NY it was always all about the calzones. The 'boli seems to be a Pennsylvania thing, as they are on every pizza shop menu around here but not so much in other areas. From what I gather, the calzone is moon-shaped with ricotta and the stromboli is more rectangular with no ricotta. I'm also told that strombolis are made with mustard. Mustard with marinara sauce? ew!

    5 Replies
    1. re: xnumberoneson

      i've heard the same thing, except for the mustard bit. i have to say, that doesn't sound appetizing, but i do have a policy of trying anything (vegetarian) once.

      i stick with calzones, because i like the way the ricotta moistens all that bread. rustica in northern liberties (philly) makes a mean spinach + tomato + ricotta calzone.

      1. re: xnumberoneson

        i had mostly calzones in Queens growing up...i discovered my first stromboli in NJ

        1. re: TSQ75

          stuff yer face in new brunswick? what an entertaining place.

          1. re: rabidog

            Ahh, loved that place a million years ago when I was at Rutgers. Mario Batali actually worked there.

        2. re: xnumberoneson

          I was born in Brooklyn, my teens were on Long Island, and then I lived in Manhattan....Stomboli was heard and eaten years before Calzone in my life...then ofcourse there's also "Lard Bread"! Tastes much better than it sounds!!!

        3. I've always known a stromboli to be a rolled pizza with sauce and mozzarella cheese. I prefer no sauce, but that's just me. Calzone's are made with mozzarella and ricotta, with or with sauce, and are folded in a half moon.
          Since moving to DE, I find that no one makes a rolled stromboli down here. Such a travesty.....

          1. I agree with the original post & what they said on the radio. Stromboli is like a loaf, doesn't have any ricotta or marinara. I like getting Stromboli's from Franzones Pizza in Bridgeport -- they stuff if w/ various meats (I think the same you'd fine on an Italian Hoagie), it has melted mozerella inside, & has oil, onion & Italian seasonings. So, really, it's sort of like a cooked Italian Hoagie.

            1. i don't ever remember having a stromboli with ricotta inside of it - that to me (born and raised in the SEPA area) is a calzone. Tho the calzones i've had are more half moon in shape. what radio show was this?

              3 Replies
              1. re: smackdown

                It was on 610WIP sports radio's afternoon show with Anthony Gargano and Steve Martarano. In my area a calzone was loaf shaped and filled with ricotta and had a more flaky crust. A stromboli was half moon folded over pizza. I guess we were wrong in South East Delco?

                1. re: Chinon00

                  Was raised in South Philly and then Delco afterward and I can tell you that a Calzone is always filled with ricotta and no sauce and usually one meat, maybe two, that you would find on a pizza (sausage, pepperoni, etc.), usually had with sauce on top of it. A Stromboli never never never has ricotta in it! It has mozzarella cheese and meats you would find in a hoagie (ham, cappicola, salami, pepperoni, etc.). Sauce is again usually on the side. To me, calzone is like a pizza while stromboli is more like a hoagie.

                  1. re: Schpsychman

                    This is my experience too. I have lived in in the NE, and now, Texas. There are even Stromboli chain restaurants here in Texas, and they all put out what amounts to be an undressed hoagie rolled in pizza dough and toasted. Sauce and cheese are optional.

              2. My first experience with calzones was in New England, They were half moon shaped, with ricotta and other fillings (veggies, meat) and served with sauce on top, and harder to find in the Philly area. My first encounter with strombolis, in this area, was tubular, no ricotta, and with cheese, sauce, etc. inside--like a rolled pizza.

                1. There is a bakery called Lancis in Philadelphia, with an outlet in NJ. On a friend's suggestion, I visited as she said they had great stromboli. And they do: at least 8 different kinds. It is loaf shaped pizza dough, stuffed with different ingredients. I have had one with b rabe, onions and mozzarella. Others have roasted peppers, italian ham, provolone, etc. All different types of mixtures. You buy them room temperature and warm them up, if desired.
                  I always thought a calzone was half moon shaped, filled with tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and maybe some type of Italian meat. Or, I have had one that did not have tomato sauce, but ricotta, mozzarella, and mushrooms.

                  1. Stromboli is reported to have originated in 1950 in Essington, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community in Tinicum Township just outside of Philadelphia, at Romano's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, by Nazzareno Romano. There, William Schofield supposedly gave it the name, after the movie Stromboli, starring Ingrid Bergman.[1] Other sources claim the stromboli was the brainchild of Mike Aquino, Sr. and that he created it in Spokane, Washington in 1954.[2] However, the Spokane story claims that Stromboli was playing in theaters in 1954, which is unlikely for a film released in 1950. The date of the film lends more credence to the Essington claims, as the dates better correspond.

                    source: Wikipedia

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: supersharpie

                      Just for the record, Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily. Most likely, whomever did "invent" this way of eating pizza named it after the island. That said, I have seen stromboli (the food item), always in a rolled form, like that of a jelly roll cake, with mozzarella and another filling, often meat. Sometimes is has seeds on top. Calzone are most definitely a pizza made "fold-over style" with ricotta and mozzarella as the base filling.

                      1. re: supersharpie

                        I don't know anything about the stromboli or calzone, but a 1950 release playing in Spokane theatres in 1954 sounds just about right.

                      2. jfood's humble distinction of these two wonderful ways of maximizing calories per cubic centimeter:

                        - Strombolis are rolled
                        - Calzones are folded

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          Western PA here and our calzones have ricotta, strombolis don't.

                          1. re: Rick

                            They are both made with pizza dough, so any difference in texture of the crust, to the extent there is any, is due to the fillings and the thickness of the dough.

                            As jfood says, Calzones are folded. Stretch pizza dough into a round. Add ricotta and mozzarella to one half of dough (plus any additional ingredients but the two cheeses are a must) and then fold over and bake.

                            Strombolis are pizza dough stretched to a rectangle and filled and rolled almost like a jelly roll and then baked. I like to think of strombolis as containing only pepperoni and mozzarella cheese but they come in all varieties. The most common are the sausage roll, the chicken roll and the pepperoni roll.

                            Neither have sauce in or on it. Its served on the side.

                          2. re: jfood

                            as usual, jfood nailed it and did so succinctly. Fillings are irrelevant. if it's rolled its a "Stromb" and it it's folded it's a Calzone.

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              Fillings are very much relevent - a stromboli should have enough mozzarella to erupt out of the slits in the crust. A calzone should be lighter, with more ricotta than mozarella.

                              1. re: John Manzo

                                Filling are quite relevant. A stromboli does NOT have ricotta.

                                  1. re: ESNY

                                    It has ricotta if you put ricotta in it.

                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                      The key difference, I think, is rolled vs. folded.

                              2. To complicate the matter, we introduce the panzerotti - folded and half-circle like the calzone, but with mozz and not ricotta cheese...

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: phungi

                                  This is what I grew up with in Southwestern Ontario. I had never heard of a calzone or stromboli until my teen years.

                                  1. re: Blush

                                    Where in SW Ontario?...I am a Chatham Girl and Mike's Pizza had the best Panzerotti

                                    1. re: kritafo

                                      I'm in London. I used to love the panzerottis from Ianni's/Tony's and from Byron Pizza.

                                  2. re: phungi

                                    ah- but panzerotti are fried, whereas the others are baked....

                                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                                      Deep fried calzones are one of life's great, and increasingly rare, treats. Sadly I only come across them at Italian food festivals during the summer months, though there are a few places in the NYC area that still do them that way.

                                  3. I've only known them as the former...

                                    calzone=turnover/half moon

                                    the other weird one, is how one friend of mine from colorado calls something that sounds like a strombili to me, a canolli!

                                    I'm all "but that's dessert!"

                                    1. here in mass. we have both names but the strom is always rolled the cal goes either way
                                      as far as filling both are filled with what ever floats your boat

                                      1. Strombolis are rolled, slit on the top, and have a greater proportion of mozzarella to ricotta (if any of the latter), so that the mozarella erupts like the eponymous volcano through the slits in the dough.

                                        A calzone is folded, uncut, and should have more ricotta and less mozarella - it should be lighter in feel.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          The "eponymous" volcano? There's a volcano named "Stromboli"?

                                          Ah, there is indeed! Snark taken back and turned upon myself. Death by snark misfire. Arrrgh.

                                          1. re: John Manzo

                                            Yep ... there's a volcano by that name and that's where the name came from ... the cheese oozing out like lava from a volcano. Here's an old discussion about the differences.

                                            Great simplification jfood ... though as others said, filling matters.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Thank goodness the OP did not ask this question on the Midwest board. In NW Indiana and in central Indiana where I went to college, stromboli was an open faced sandwich on half a hoagie/sub roll. It was covered in pizza sauce and had crumbled sausage in it. Sometimes it had sliced onions on top.

                                              1. re: fryrose

                                                I grew up in Hammond. Stromboli was not an open faced sandwich except for one I haplessly ordered at Pizza Hut. It was always rolled.

                                        2. The way it was explained to me is that a Stromboli has the tomato sauce inside the pocket, while with the calzone the tomato sauce is servered on the side for dipping.

                                          The reason is that Stromboli is named after a famous volcano, and when you bite into a Stromboli, the hot tomato sauce oozes out, like the lava in a volcano.

                                          This was how we differentiated them at the Napolitan restaurant where I worked, whidh was run by a Sicilian family.

                                          1. Being Italian, we've always simply called all incarnations of stuffed pizza panzarrotti.

                                            1. Here's a CH post that has a picture of a stromboli: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621140
                                              ............... it's a California stromboli and geography could change things somewhat.

                                              My first stromboli was in that same area (in Hayward, CA) about 25 years ago. I grew up in New York and we had calzones there, but I don't recall stromboli as a kid.

                                              1. Strombolis have been around since before I was a kid, that's over 50 years and in NYC too. They are dough stuffed with italian meats and cheeses (ham, salame, provolone, mozz etc) a calzone is dough with ricotta and mozz and ham or any other stuffing you want
                                                two every distinctly different things
                                                oh and yes, the calzone is a crescent shaped puffy pastry and the stomboli is like a long italian bread both made with pizza dough