Stromboli vs. Calzone: The Great Debate

Of all the culinary conundrums, the one that plagues me the most is the difference between a calzone and a stromboli. Growing up I thought the main difference was that stromboli is typically rolled and made with cold cut-type meat, while a calzone is folded over and made with anything else. Then I went to college and experienced a place called Stuff Yer Face, where I was introduced to fishbowls and 'bolis. I remember being confused as I realized my 'boli resembled more of a calzone -- it was not rolled, and there was not a luncheon meat to be found. So, what the heck is the difference?

For years, I've received conflicting information, like "stromboli always contain marinara, while calzones always have ricotta," but experience has taught me not to believe these lies. I've also heard that calzones are authentically Italian, while stromboli are a product of either Washington or Philadelphia and named for the film Stromboli starring Ingrid Bergman.

I'd planned to research this question until I could define each accurately and completely. But then I got really hungry, and, well, the quest for truth is having some minor setbacks. Whatever you want to call it, here is my recipe for a quick and easy strom-zone or cal-boli that is perfectly delicious no matter the name.

Strom-zone or Cal-boli

  • Take any type of sausage (one per person) out of its casing and cook through in olive oil.
  • I typically use sweet Italian sausage or turkey sausage, but feel free to get creative with hot or specialty sausages like HEB's feta and spinach chicken sausage.
  • Remove the sausage and sauté one sliced onion, one sliced red bell pepper and a few garlic cloves until tender in the pan drippings and Italian seasonings.
  • Flour and roll out pizza dough onto a baking sheet. I used one tube of Pillsbury's refrigerated classic pizza dough (love this stuff!).
  • To assemble, make a thin layer of marinara, along with an Italian blend of cheese and fresh spinach leaves, across the whole surface of the dough, leaving a small border. I have never mastered the stromboli roll without creating a mess, so for this reason I loaded up the rest of my toppings on just one side of the dough, folded the other side over, pinched the ends together and molded into a neat little package. Roll at your own risk.
  • Once the whole thing is brushed down with olive oil, given a few slits in the top and sprinkled with garlic salt for good luck, it is ready for the 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

If that's not challenging enough for you, here are a few other, slightly more sophisticated stromboli recipes to try: Thanksgiving Stromboli; Spinach, Feta and Kalamata Olive Stromboli; and Traditional Stromboli according to Emeril Lagasse.

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Kristen Majewski
Contact: Kristen Majewski