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Stromboli vs. Calzone: What's the Real Difference Between These Italian Favorites?

Never confuse the two again—here's everything you need to know.
calzone cut in half on a plate with a bowl of marinara sauce

If you frequent a true mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, you've likely been there for the pizza (of course), but if you're looking to branch out, you might want to try two other Italian favorites: a stromboli or a calzone. Sure, you've seen them on the menu before, but do you really know the difference between a stromboli and a calzone? News flash: They're not synonymous.

The two dishes often get confused for one another, but according to Bryan Forgione, executive chef of Buddy V's Ristorante in Las Vegas, that shouldn't be the case, as there are notable differences when it comes down to the classic case of a stromboli vs. calzone.

Stromboli vs. calzone: What's the main difference?

Let's start with what's similar between the two seemingly identical derivatives of pizza: they are both made with dough, cheese, and various other fillings you would find on top of a pizza pie.

OK, so now you know how they're similar, here's how the two doughy dishes differ. We're taking it back to the very beginning, where they were each born.

"The origins of calzone can be traced back to Naples, where they are obviously famous for their pizzas," says Forgione. In contrast, the first stromboli originated in an Italian-American neighborhood in the southern part of Philadelphia. The dish is said to be named after the Italian Isle of Stromboli. Italy vs. Pennsylvania: the origins are very different for these two Italian restaurant staples.

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Now, let's talk about fillings—how do those differ?

While both calzones and strombolis contain cheese, the type of cheese will tell you right away which one it actually is.

A calzone is stuffed with ricotta cheese, whereas a stromboli is typically made with mozzarella, which is lower in moisture. Another notable difference is that the tomato sauce will never be inside of a calzone like a stromboli. Instead, you dip a calzone into marinara sauce. Forgione even says there is a difference in the thickness of the dough.

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Is the shape of a calzone different from that of a stromboli?

Yes, they are shaped completely differently.

"With a stromboli, I will roll the dough out into a thin rectangle and spread a thin layer of ingredients," he says. A stromboli is often shared between several people, as it's long and rectangular.

If you're making a calzone, you will stretch the dough into a circle and then put ricotta in the center, as well as other fillings, before folding the dough in a half-moon shape and pinching the sides shut.

"For a calzone, the dough should be a bit thicker to create a nice interior wall to hold all the hot delicious ricotta," he adds.  The calzone should be enough for just one person, maybe two depending on the size of the initial circle you made.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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