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On the east coast Italian restaurants (or pizza shops) sometimes offer both Strombolis and Calzones. Sometimes it seems that Calzones are a 'type' of Stromboli, because the menu has a single Calzone but a list of different Strombolis. But I doubt that's an accurate assessment.

So, what's the difference between the two? I'd be interested in the technical reasons as well as whey they're listed separately on menus (if the reasoning is different).

Also, I give the east coast location because I've heard out west a Stromboli may be thought of as a kind of hot sandwich (basically an Italian roll hollowed out a bit and filled). That's not the Stromboli or Calzone I'm familiar with - but if the definitions change drastically based on geographic area I'm interested in that as well.

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Need to mention that here in Italy we have just Calzone pizza. Stromboli, though having italian name, seems to have american origin. –  systempuntoout Sep 7 '10 at 10:23
I confirm what systempuntoout wrote: this is the first time that I read or heard of a dish called Stromboli. –  MaD70 Oct 27 '10 at 15:32

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In my experience the primary difference is that Calzones have Ricotta (and possibly Mozzarella) and Strombolis only have Mozzarella. In the Philadelphia area, both are folded over pizzas, basically.

Growing up, my mother made Stromboli and it was rolled, not folded. I rarely see that in a pizza shop these days, but I do prefer that in a Stromboli.

Edit: Just read systempuntoout's link to Wikipedia and it confirmed something that I was going to post and then deleted. When I was growing up, Strombolis were made from bread dough and Calzones were made from pizza dough; nowadays all of the pizza shops just use pizza dough. I remember bread stores as being the primary place to get Strombolis growing up because they were the ones that made the dough!

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That's what I'm used to, as well. (calzones having ricotta) I'm also used to calzones not having a tomato sauce inside (although they might have sliced tomatoes), whereas strombolis may or may not have sauce inside. I've never seen a calzone that wasn't a 1/2 circle ... except at Ledo Pizza, which I won't count, as it wasn't even fully sealed after folding. –  Joe Sep 7 '10 at 16:23

My understanding based on local experience (five Italian restaurants on every block) is that Stromboli and Calzone differ principally in (a) their filling, (b) the dough, and (c) the final shape.

Calzones are basically folded pizzas, made from pizza dough and stuffed with the same ingredients as pizza - almost always tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, usually ricotta, often pepperoni and maybe some other cheese and cured meats - and then folded over like an omelette.

Stromboli are more like pizza rolls. They're made from a thicker dough (still pizza dough), the tomato sauce and ricotta are optional and usually left out, and they are literally rolled up into a tube shape (sometimes more of a blocky sandwich shape though).

Other than that, they are quite similar, and the differences seem to get murkier over time... I often see Stromboli with the sauce and cheese and Calzone without the sauce. But fundamentally, Stromboli is more like a sandwich and Calzone is more like a pie; if a particular restaurant doesn't do it that way, then that would have to be their own twist on the traditional recipe.

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Similar to my experience. Calzone being a half circle in presentation (folded pizza), and Stromboli being a 'tube' shape. Although most of what I've experienced of Stromboli is less rolled (as in a pumpkin roll) and more folded into the center (kind of like a letter fold). –  Tim Lytle Sep 6 '10 at 15:49
@Tim: I've seen that too, but rarely. I don't think it's traditional, just lazy. I'm accustomed to thinking of an "authentic" Stromboli as you say - like a pumpkin roll or jelly roll. –  Aaronut Sep 6 '10 at 15:55

I thought the main difference between them was that a Calazone has the sauce on the inside, while a Stromboli has sauce served on the side so you can dip it in the sauce as you eat it.

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That's what I always thought too. As a matter of fact, that's on the take-out menu of a local pizza shop. Maybe it's a regional thing. –  Jolenealaska Dec 8 '13 at 0:42

The difference between a Stromboli and a Calzone is the ingredients. The Calzone will have Prociutto or Cappacolla and Ricotta. The dough is very light but not too chewy. The Stromboli is named after a place in Sicily, where it was made quite often. Usualy, the Calzone will have the Sauce on the side. Sometimes the Calzone will be made with Spinach or Escarole inside as well. Stromboli on the other hand has a heavier dough and is bigger because it will have Sausage, Pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese, Onions, garlic,Peppers, and sometimes olives and capers. Actually, the Calzone is the spicier of the two. Once I ordered one with Cappacolla and Procuitto. A little too spicey. Very Calienti(hot). Finding a place that makes both good is a miracle.

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the first job I ever had was at a pizza shop.it was owned by a New York Jew, who grew up among New York Italians. if you know anything about New York Jews or New York Italians, they know what they are talking about. traditional Stromboli is ham salami pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. the difference between a calzone and Stromboli is a calzone has ricotta cheese and a Stromboli does not have ricotta cheese. you can fill a calzone or Stromboli with whatever fillings you want just like a pizza.

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Former New Yorker here, grew up on LI where there has to be a pizza shop in every strip center.

Calzone & Stromboli are different in SHAPE and ingredients. Calzone will have a red gravy and the Stromboli will have Ricotta cheese instead. Calzone is dress a half the dough with meats and sauce and Mozzarella, fold over other half of dough and crimp onnly center allowing sides to show what is inside.

Stromboli is stiffer dough if you have that available, place the ingredients in the center 1/3, wrap the two sides over to look like a loaf or sandwich.

I managed a Pizza restaurant in RI for a summer on Block Island, and this was the rule according to the Italian owner who's mom would come in ever once in a while to approve what we did.

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