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Where in the world is Panzarotti? Why is so little heard about them?

I've been following the Stromboli vs Calzoni thread w/ interest. In my youth in NJ, I used to very much enjoy paszarotti, much like a calzone, but smaller, flakier crust and deep fried. Where else are they popular and why is so little heard about them outside the NYC/Philly area?

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  1. Wikipedia says their US epicenter is southern NJ. Ask Snookie. :-)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzarotti

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      Snooki is a benny from New York and would know nothing about panzarottis. And if you don't know what a benny is you're definitely not from Jersey. :D

    2. I went to college at Rowan University (The Artist Formerly Known As Glassboro State College, about twenty miles outside Philly) and Super Sub had THE BEST panzarottis. I also have never seen them outside south Jersey. Alas, Super Sub no longer seems to exist and is now called Ciconte's--and seems to no longer offer panzarottis. :(

      1. Possibly because empanadas and arepas caught on earlier elsewhere.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          KS, pansarotti are Italian, aren't empanadas and arepas Latin American?

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Panzarotti are Italian-American from a particular part of the US. Empanadas, arepas and meat pies are Caribbean and Latin American and showed up more broadly in different urban and suburban areas of the US. I remember getting empanadas in the 70s on Long Island.

            Then there are chimichangas....

            1. re: Karl S

              We are saying the same thing. I learned Italian food growing upin Jersey (Bon Jovi & I went tio the same high school) and lived in Bolivia and New Mexico for 15 years.
              My question is why are calzoni & stromboli ubiquitious and panzarotti limited to mainly So. Jersey?
              Paisano Passadumkeg

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                I wonder if the advent of Hot Pockets, Totino's Pizza Rolls, and the like bumped them out of the wrapped-then-fried Italian ingredient niche. Pizzerias don't HAVE to have fryalators so the calzone approach makes sense for them. But there are plenty that also offer deep-fried foods, so it does seem like they would make the fried version if it sold well. Maybe people are more satisfied with Hot Pockets than frozen pizza.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I don't think that has anything to do with it. It's strictly a "south Jersey around Philly" thing. Kind of like only being able to get steamed cheeseburgers in a tiny part of Connecticut.

          2. Looks like, from the other thread linked by E Eto, that Galleria Umberto in Boston has them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              And they were terrific. Also great arancini there.

              1. re: tatamagouche

                The panzarotti at Gallaria Umberto will not be familiar to those looking for a calzone like filled dough. Theirs is a herbed mashed potato log with mozzarella in the center, coated and fried, no dough involved. They're great, but not what most of you are thinking of.

            2. This is very interesting. When I was in college (late 60's) in--of all places--Dubuque, Iowa, there was a tiny counter place with maybe 6 stools that specialized in panzarotti. It was one of most wonderful pastries I've ever had. Flakey light crust, cheese/tomato filling. If I could have afforded it, I'd have eaten a dozen at a sitting. Never seen anything remotely like in the Midwest, then or since. Maybe this guy was an immigrant from NJ. Who knows.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Masonville

                I think as we travel, we're going to do a hunt for The Holy Panzarotti and report back. Funny, for a little state, NJ has a goodly share of special foods; the panzarotti, the NJ Sloppy Joe, the Italian hot dog, Taylor Pork Roll sandwiches and........

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Rhode Island is like that, too. Lots of local specialties.

              2. Here in the Great White North, panzarotti are baked, not deep fried, and available at pretty much every pizza joint. Not at all flaky - i.e not a pastry type crust, but much more like a pizza that's been folded over on itself.

                Just in case you wander north of the boredom, I want you to know what to expect!

                4 Replies
                1. re: FrankD

                  Sounds like a calzone. How do your calzoni differ from panzarotti?

                    1. re: MandalayVA

                      Well, apparently, in Ontario, they call baked calzoni-like items panzarotti, so I was trying to figure out if they actually had something called calzone that was any different from what they call panzarotti.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Some places call them "calzones", some places "panzarotti", and one place split the difference by calling it a "pizzone". Regardless, it's a standard pizza crust, not a pastry, and it's baked, not deep fried. Popular among teenage boys as they can be eaten while driving without everything falling on your shirt; I've frankly never seen a woman eat one.

                2. Panzarotti. My second generation Italian grandmother made two kinds- potato and rice. Potato is basically mashed potato with egg, salt, pepper, parsley and grated parmesano-reggiano cheese, rolled into a ball and then rolled in bread crumbs and fried in hot oil, drain, eat. Rice is cooked white rice (fancy arborio, not necessary), salt /pepper, egg, parsley, grated parmesano-reggiano and shredded mozerella, rolled into a ball (more like an egg shape), rolled in bread crumbs and friend in hot oil. I prefer the rice. I have no idea if panzarotti is the correct name for either of the items I have described above, but that's what she called them and they are gooooooood, so who cares. I've made the rice. I've never heard of panzarotti outside of my own family's Christmas dinner. Christmas dinner: Antipasto- assorted cheeses, Italian meats, pickled vegetables, olivies, anchovies, etc...Escarole Soup, bread and more bread, Pasta - usually stuffed shells with a side of meatballs and sausage- we called it sauce, not gravy. Meat course- lagerte (again, not idea if that's correct)- basically an eye roast braised tenderly with Italian herbs, red wine vinegar and olive oil- and vegetables- onion, carrot, celery, parsley diced up- Panzarotti and stuffed artichokes, which you pull apart and dip in olive oil and salt. Then fruits and nuts basket. Then dessert and coffee- all from Terminis in Philadelphi- Rum Cake, Canollis; homemade pizzelles and strufoli (fried teeny-tiny dough balls soaked in rum and honey and stacked into a big tower).Then cordials. Then you lay down wherever there is enough space in a food coma. Anyway, that's how we do panzaroti. Enjoy.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: grlwhoeats

                    Um, on second thought/remembering/talking to my mother. Panzarotti were only the potato kind. There is another name for the fried rice balls that neither of us can remember. But I can make them and that's what matters!

                      1. re: roxlet

                        I LOVE knish. These are not nearly as dense as a knish. The crust is very light.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Thanks for putting a name to a much loved food. These family recipe treasures with no names!

                          1. re: grlwhoeats

                            Arancini are pretty well known, not hard to find. Depending on where you live you might even find an Italian restaurant near you that makes 'em.

                      2. They offer a fried calzone at Pupatella, a place in Arlington, VA. So you can try it when you make your trip down south.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Steve

                          Not when there are saltenas around!