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What's the difference between a stramboli and a calzone?

I just saw Mario Batali make a stramboli on Chefography, and it looked like a calzone. I am really clueless about both. What is the difference?

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  1. I think, but I do not know for sure, that stromboli are rectangular, while calzones are semi-circular. Otherwise, they are the same thing. This is from someone who used to eat stromboli at Stuff Yer Face, where Batali worked long, long ago. As you can see, I also don't quite understand the Italian plural. "Calzoni" looks bizarre to me.

    61 Replies
    1. re: small h

      The only stromboli I have ever had were long rectangles of dough rolled around the fillings in jelly-roll fashion. The calzone shape is usually but not always semi-circular, folded over once to enclose the filling, and the edges pinched to seal.

      1. re: greygarious

        I've seen that kind of stromboli also, in the Scarpetta bread basket (et al.). But in the grand tradition of "this is where I saw it first; hence, it is correct," I'm stickin' to my Jersey guns. Stromboli are folded over, not rolled.

      2. re: small h

        JC, from all these answers you'll note, for the record, it's "stromboli," not "stramboli." And small h, calzoni, as the plural, is correct, because it's masculine. It's "il calzone," "i calzoni." (If it were feminine, it's be "la calzone," "le calzone." But it ain't.)

        1. re: tatamagouche

          Ah, thanks. Like "I Vitelloni." I can remember it that way.

          1. re: tatamagouche

            So, do you say "pizze" for the plural of pizza? These words, once assimilated into regular Amurcan English usage, no longer take Italian rules for plurals but the English. Languages are messy like that (and it's also true vice versa in other languages that assimilate English words into their respective usages).

            1. re: Karl S

              One of my favorite fractured assimilations is: "a tamale" as in "I want to order a tamale." "Tamal" is singular in Spanish and "tamales" is plural, but somehow we've incorporated half the word into the singular in English. So to be correct, you should say, "John ate a tamal and Suzie ate two tamales." Not "John ate a tamale."

              My second favorite fractured Anglicization of a foreign phrase is "au jus." This means "with juice" (i.e., the beefy liquid exuded by thinly cut roasted utility beef), as in "French Dip au jus." But sometimes, on the menu, the way I see it is "roast beef sandwich with au jus," meaning "roast beef sandwich with with juice." (The double "with" is intentional.)

              As for the calzone, someone on the board wrote that it means "trouser." It can't be. I don't speak Italian, but in Spanish "calzon" means "shoe," and almost certainly "calzone" in Italian must mean the same and be a reference to the shape of the meat and cheese pastry being created, somewhat similar to the shape of a shoe. (I trust that by now I sound sufficiently academic and "hoity-toity"!)

              1. re: gfr1111

                Calzone means trouser in the broader sense of hose or stocking or sock...

                1. re: Karl S

                  And burrito? Doesn't pizza mean pie?
                  Isn't Strombol(i) a volcano?
                  Nice photos of stroboli and calzone making here:
                  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Hey, don't get me started on what ziti are alluding to....

                2. re: gfr1111

                  "Shoe" in Italian is scarpa. Just one of those false cognates I guess.

                  1. re: gfr1111

                    "Au" corresponds to "al" in Spanish and Italian. It literally is a contraction of "to the": Fr."a le"; It "a il"; Sp. "a el" In culinary terms. the contraction is used to indicate a 'style'. For example: al dente "to the tooth" for pasta cooked with a bite; al fresco "in the fresh [air]" . Most people are familiar with the feminine It "alla"; Fr., Sp.: "a la" For example: spaghetti alla carbonara; pie a la mode. So "roast beef sandwich with au jus" is more like "spaghetti with al dente" or "Pie with a la mode" It is certainly redundant but not literally "with with" Just nitpicking :)
                    Regarding calzone, the Latin root word is "calc-" or "calx" meaning haiving to do with the heel. Words derived from this root have come to be used for shoes, socks, stockings, underpants, shorts, and trousers. Also, shoe is not "calzon" in Spanish. It's "zapato".

                  2. re: Karl S

                    In general, I don't disagree with you, KS. With respect to my examples I do disagree. Mostly it depends on context. Of course I don't say "Let's order tre pizze" instead of "Let's order three pizzas." But if I'm at an Italian place and I see "raviolis" listed on the menu instead of "ravioli," yes, that irks me; in context, they should know better. Ditto: "Today we have a ham panini." You have a ham panino or you have ham panini. If you're serving Italian food, know your Italian usage.

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      Yes, along with gabagool, mozzarell, rigutt, pizzagena, et cet.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Reading this is almost as bad as listening to Ornella Fado trying to speak English. Both are examples of stripping a language of its dignity.

                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          Not sure I follow...to what specifically are you referring?

                          1. re: tatamagouche

                            Ah, alluding to 'gabagool, mozzarell, rigutt, pizzagena' .
                            The various dialects of Italy practically all erase that sing-songy quality the Italian language embodies. The above words should sound like they are spelled .... Capicolla, mozzarella, ricotta, e pizza chiena. Anything sounding like "gool" should be left out of food completely especially if preceded by "ba fan".

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Right Karl, pasta e fagioli. Add gavadeal to the list. Cavatelli.

                              2. re: Cheese Boy

                                Oh...to the extent that Sicilians truncate a lot of words—their dialect is as legit as the textbook dialect of Milan. I don't know that it's fair to say one is more "Italian" than the other just because the latter's what gets learned in school, any more than it's fair to say English spoken in New England is more English than that which is spoken in the Deep South...though I suppose you could say that whatever region the word emanates from provides the "correct" pronunciation...

                                now, Sicilian by way of Jersey is pretty ugly, agreed. But it has its own mangled charm.

                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                  Are you of Italian descent? Can you really translate "ba fan gool?" I would be very careful making these generalizations if you are not. You probably wouldn't poke fun of blacks who speak in an ebonics sort of way, so I feel Italians should be given the same respect

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                    It's pretty easy to translate, although not the way you spell it.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Oh yeah, I know exactly what it means...I think lotsa folks toss it around, and giggle about it, but really have no clue

                                  2. re: Cheese Boy

                                    My father -- a real hound (he introduced me to the joys of capers on pizza) -- really enjoyed ordering spaghetti aglio olio. I still can't say it right. Then again, who among us really can? Just a brutal combination of sounds.

                                    1. re: Bob W

                                      I made aglio olio perfectly long before I could say it, my husband's family drilled it into me til I got it right! It's like you have to relax your face to say it. And va fongool (correctly va' a fare culo, I was a linguistics major first time around) is sort of gross, people should know what they're saying when they say it.

                                      1. re: Bob W

                                        Bob, there's a saying in Italian ... "Ma che capperi" which loosely translated means "What the heck". Literally it means "Wow, what capers!". Italian can be funny this way. A lot is lost in translation sometimes.

                                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                                          every language is funny that way.

                                      2. re: Cheese Boy

                                        If you ever heard a country person speaking dialect in, say, Basilicata or Abruzzo or parts of Calabria, you'd not hear much sing-songy, but a rough, rapid fire, parsimonious, sometimes clipped speech. The 'gabagools' of Italian-American (well, NE urban Italian-American) go back to this style, enhanced by the dominance of a still standard Neapolitan practice of either dropping, swallowing, or making silent final vowels. For example, the "e" that ends "Napule" is voiced very quietly. Unlike Neapolitans se stessi, of course. Back to the original query: in the beginning, there were only calzones, mostly fried half moons, less often baked. Sometime in the 60s or maybe 70s came stromboli and their cousins the "ippy" or "hippy" rolls, usually a sausage w/wout peppers baked inside pizza dough. I grew up with the classic calzone, and am still trying to figure out ippy rolls.

                                          1. re: bob96

                                            I've seen epi rolls for sale at pizza places in Manhattan, in case you need yet another word for this item.

                                            1. re: bob96

                                              bob96 -- I've never heard of ippy rolls, but Caserta Pizza in Providence makes a beloved item called a Wimpy Skippy (often mangled as Wimpy Skimpy), which certainly sounds like the same thing. So thanks for providing some back story on the name.

                                              PS Caserta is a suburb of Naples. In the RI tradition, people often refer to Caserta as Caserta's, but there's no Mr. Caserta.

                                              1. re: bob96

                                                True of Siciliy too, as I mentioned above. In Boston, at least, the heritage is more Sicilian than southern mainland, so far as I know.

                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                  I guess I'll have to swing by Caserta on our next trip through Providence. Thinking about it some more (what CH makes us do), I guess the stromboli was a kind of richer, more elaborately filled baked calzone, made by a newer generation of pizzaioli (late 60s on), many of whom came over after immigration from Southern Italy was reopened in 1965. Mostly from Sicily, too, with them maybe the stromboli name. Till then, corner pizzerie in NYC at least were mostly sparse places, selling really only zeppole and calzones (filled with either ricotta plain or ricotta w ham) in addition to pizza. Glad to see the epi roll lives, though.

                                                  1. re: bob96

                                                    Mmm, zeppole.

                                                    Although on my first visit to Sicily in 1998, it was arancini that changed my life.

                                                  2. re: tatamagouche

                                                    Avellinese in Boston is perhaps the most influential heritage.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      Is that right? I suppose I'm North End-centric...

                                                2. re: Cheese Boy

                                                  Capicola is also not correct (of course, common usage makes anything correct eventually). It should be "capocollo" from the old Italian word for head "capo" (related to French chef, Spanish jefe) and still used to mean someone in charge like a Mafia capo. Plus "collo" or neck. I assume that "capocollo" wound up being pronounced "capuh colluh" by people in the industry and ultimately written down as capicola. Something similar must have happened regarding portobello mushrooms since I've been seeing them sold as "portabellas" in too many places.

                                  3. re: small h

                                    Calzone is singular, calzoni plural. (Note to tatamagouche: the ending would be the same even if it were feminine.) It means pants (in the sense of trousers) and is used in everyday parlance as a sort of slangy or informal synonym for pantaloni.

                                    No one has mentioned the pronunciation or derivation of stromboli. I have never actually seen one (and I grew up in Manhattan), but I believe they are known as strom-BO-li. But the only other use of that name I have ever heard is for the volcano Stromboli, an island that belongs to the region of Sicily. It's pronounced STROM-boli. However, the narrator in the English version of the Roberto Rossellini film (with Ingrid Bergman) of that name mispronounced the name of the island as strom-BO-li. I have climbed it twice, so believe me, I know its name.

                                    1. re: mbfant

                                      Maureen, I wouldn't worry too much about the correct pronunciation of stromboli, the food: it's one of those (outer borough) streetlevel handles that has a life of its own. The volcano, and the island it's on, is, of course a different matter, even for those of us who've not climbed it even once. Also, in Brooklyn, calzoni were pronounced "calzones," for better or worse.

                                      1. re: bob96

                                        Not worried at all! I remember calzones, which has an honorable outer borough history (and note the z is pronounced differently too; in Italian it's like "tz"). It's the new arrivals like "brushetta" that make me apoplectic.

                                        1. re: mbfant

                                          I can hear that soft "z" frying up right now. The new arrivals drive me mad, too. There's a product now called "freshetta", and Olive Garden now markets a form of Ligurian pansoti, pronounced, of course, pan(open "a" as in "pan")-sohtee. I don''t want to know what the ripieno (ree-pee-aye-noh) might be. Salve.

                                          1. re: bob96

                                            Pansoti are related to the Italian word for belly: pancia (PAHN-chah). Belly is pansa in Ligurian. So pansoti would be like Italian panciotti. Panciotto happens to mean waistcoat in Italian. I do not know if pansoto has the same meaning in Ligurian.
                                            Regarding pronouncing Italian words, I understand that the American tongue can only do so much, so certain changes are inevitable. Bruschetta will always look like brushetta, unfortunately. However, if we can remember that lasagna is lazanya, we can remember broo'SKEHT-tah

                                            1. re: Rocky2

                                              I always found it interesting how Italian food is often named after something else, rather than having its own name. Like cappellini or orecchiette, and stracciatelle. I always imagine the person first naming these things, chuckling as they do so.

                                              1. re: coll

                                                Strozzapreti were named by a jokester for sure, right coll?

                                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                  Glad you pointed that out. I had to look it up but that could be the best one yet.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    strozzapreti and strangolapreti (also strozzafrati) are anticlerical jibes at the supposed gluttony of the clergy under the Papal States. As amusing names, they are hard to top, but ciecamariti would have to be in the running, as would cazzetti d'angelo, pardon my French, and there would have to be a category for sorcetti pelosi.

                                                    1. re: mbfant

                                                      Speaking of French, don't they call a certain pastry "nun's farts?" This is fun!

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        Pet de nonne is French for nun's farts. They are made from a pate chou pastry , like cream puffs, but are small, not filled with cream, and are dusted with sugar.

                                                      2. re: mbfant

                                                        oh, i was so tempted to post a photo for "hairy mice" (sorcetti pelosi).....

                                                        ~~~~~~
                                                        http://books.google.com/books?id=D5nX...

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          And what is this "castrato" sauce' that they are usually served with? Curiouser and curiouser.

                                                          Ah it is a meat sauce made with mutton from castrated sheep. At least better than what I was thinking.

                                                            1. re: mbfant

                                                              mbfant (maureen b. fant) -- very cool!!!! small world, huh?

                                                              i was just lookin' for hairy mice! ;-).

                                                              that looks like a gorgeous and fascinating book, too. i love the clarity in your writing, which is a feat -- isn't it -- when translating italian to english for an american market? your narrative is engaging.

                                                              how did doing this particular book affect your knowledge or appreciation of italy or pasta?

                                                              ~~~~~~~
                                                              kudos:
                                                              ""Maureen Fant's fine translation does complete justice to Oretta Zanini's scrupulously detailed and lovingly presented compendium. I defy anyone to read this book and not want immediately to board a plane for Italy."--Nancy Harmon Jenkins, author of Cucina del Sole and The Essential Mediterranean."" from the barnes & noble website. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/book...

                                                              brava!
                                                              ~~~~~~~~
                                                              oh my goodness alive, i see that you do food tours of rome with oretta zanini de vita. boy, that would be awesome! i went to rome when i was a senior in high school. loved the city and have wanted to return (esp. since it was massively "cleaned up" a while back.).

                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                      I believe that panzerotto is the Pugliese word for pansoto/panciotto. That would be linguistically. The word is used for different dishes, obviously.. I don't know if panzerotto means waistcoat in the Pugliese dialect.

                                                    2. re: Rocky2

                                                      The word pansotti, pansooti in dialect, is equivalent to the Italian panciuti, meaning potbellied. You don't have to go as far as the waistcoat for the belly association since the bulging shape of the pansotti probably suggests a round tummy.

                                                      I always tell people to think of Chianti to remember the k sound.

                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                          that's a good one, as long as they can spell it ...

                                              2. re: mbfant

                                                IIRC, the feminine Italian ending is "e," not "i", though there are exceptions, no? Maybe I've forgotten. It *has* been 20 years.

                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                  I had to look up IIRC -- glad to learn a new one. Any noun whose singular ends in -e has the plural ending -i. I can't off the top of my head think of any feminine nouns that do end in -e in the singular, but that would be their plural. The usual feminine ending is -a singular, -e plural, and the usual masculine is -o, with plural -e (but, e.g., il poeta).

                                                  1. re: mbfant

                                                    As soon as I wrote that "le madri" popped into my head and I realized you were right. My bad.

                                                    But I think it's this, no?

                                                    masc sing: -o
                                                    masc plural: -i
                                                    fem sing: -a
                                                    fem sing: -e

                                                    And then there are some words of either gender that can end in -e, which also take the plural -i.

                                                    Or else I've forgotten everything I learned after 4 years of Italian, which is highly likely.

                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                      Yes, that's right. Madre is the perfect example; it works just like padre. And -o, -i, -a, -e are the most common endings, but not the only ones.

                                                      1. re: mbfant

                                                        I think we've got it.

                                                        Miss studying the language. Should get back to it.

                                            2. I don't think the shape is dispositive, but Stromboli typically do not have ricotta cheese inside (and are more often rectangular, although I've seen both shapes), and calzones do have ricotta, and are more often half-moon shaped. Otherwise, both usually have tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese (sometimes only ricotta in a calzone) and other meat/ vegetable fillings.

                                              1. Good answers here. :)
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/647601

                                                And I am a fool for a good calzone. Should you ever reach the Land of Steady Habits, we make 'em FANTASTIC here.

                                                ETA: Accept no substitutes!
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5871...

                                                1. The Garden State has both and lots more!
                                                  Mario got his start at Stuff Your Face, in New Brunswick, here's the low down on stromboli.
                                                  Both my folks died in the hospital 2 blocks away; my bro and I sampled A LOT of the beers.
                                                  http://www.stuffyerface.com/about.html

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    In Italian, Calzone translates to trousers or pants!

                                                  2. Calzones are classically half-moons, with a relatively thin crust with no slashed venting, and the cheese filling is dominated by ricotta, not mozzarella.

                                                    Strombolis, are often oblong, sometimes with a bit thicker crust that is slashed, so that the mozzarella-dominated filling can pour out like the volcano for which they are named.

                                                    That said, there are a lot of things called calzones out there with stromboli filings. Way too many, in fact.