If you’re starting a pizzeria or considering adding a calzone or stromboli to your menu, you should be aware of one of the great pizza debates. There are areas of the country where calzone and stromboli are words that are used interchangeably. And to be sure, they are very similar. But there are some places where this topic will lead to a barroom brawl. 

OK, hopefully that’s an exaggeration. But the question of “what’s the difference between a calzone and stromboli?” tends to generate heated debate. Just see this post on PMQ’s Think Tank, which remains one of the most popular discussions to ever appear in that forum. 

So here are the facts, which will hopefully keep you from ending up in pizza jail. 

What is a Calzone? 

(Getty Images)

A calzone is a pizza-inspired item said to have originated on the streets of Naples. It was created, most people think, as an even easier way to eat a pizza-like meal on the street. A calzone is made with pizza dough, filled with ricotta (and sometimes other cheeses and toppings) and is sealed shut by being folded in half and crimped at the edges. A calzone is usually brushed with an egg wash and then baked. Calzones are often cut in half and served with marinara sauce. 

What is Stromboli? 

(Getty Images)

Most people agree that stromboli originated in Philadelphia. That leads to a first notable difference between stromboli and calzones: one is an Italian-American creation, while a calzone is said to be bona fide Italian. Stromboli is made with pizza dough formed into a rectangle. Similar to a calzone, the filling is typically cheese, but it’s predominantly mozzarella that’s used in stromboli. Other toppings can be put inside stromboli, including tomato sauce. In order to seal stromboli—and this is key—the dough is folded lengthwise into a cylinder, with any extra dough folded over like a burrito. Similar to a calzone, stromboli is brushed with egg wash and baked. After, stromboli is often sliced into more than two halves. 

The Verdict

It’s important to remember that these are loose guidelines, the technicalities of which are oft-debated. If there were hard-and-fast rules, there would be little debate. When deciding which is right for your menu, feel free to improvise with the fillings and toppings you are willing to include. For example, there are many strombolis across the country that have ricotta as a filling, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be prepared to answer some questions—or point people in our direction. 

Food & Ingredients