Stromboli vs. Calzone: Different Branches of Pizza Lineage

By: Sascha Bos  | 
Do you know what this pouch made of pizza dough is called? Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

Ordering a stromboli vs. calzone is a matter of personal preference, but the difference between them is clear. One is folded in half like an apple turnover, and the other is rolled up like a jelly roll cake.

But which is which?


What Is a Stromboli?

A stromboli looks much more like a jelly roll cake than the turnover-shaped calzone. LauriPatterson / Getty Images

A stromboli is an Italian American dish consisting of pizza dough and toppings rolled into a log and then baked.

Romano's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria claims Italian immigrant Nazzereno "Nat" Romano invented the stromboli in 1950 at his pizzeria in Essington, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia.


According to the restaurant's website, Nazzareno began experimenting with a rolled pizza sandwich in 1949 and started selling his creation in 1950.

What Does the Word 'Stromboli' Mean?

Stromboli is a volcanic island to the northeast of Sicily. The word "stromboli" comes from the Greek "strongulos," which means round — an apt descriptor for this dish!

According to Romano's Italian Restaurant, the idea to name the sandwich "stromboli" actually comes from the 1950 Roberto Rossellini film starring Ingrid Bergman and the media frenzy surrounding Rossellini and Bergman's affair. (The film is set on the Italian island of Stromboli.)


What Is a Calzone?

A calzone is a sort of folded pizza from Naples, Italy. The typical filling is ham and mozzarella cheese.

To make it, you roll (or toss) a circle of pizza dough, apply toppings to one half of the dough, and fold it into a half-moon shape, then bake it. Smaller versions are often deep-fried.


It's the ideal portable street snack.

What Does the Word 'Calzone' Mean?

The word "calzone" is Italian for "trouser leg." We guess it makes sense if you're wearing parachute pants.


What's the Difference Between a Calzone and a Stromboli?

In terms of ingredients, calzones and strombolis are pretty similar. But they look completely different.


Calzones and strombolis are made with some of the same ingredients:


  • Pizza dough: Pizza dough (made with flour, water, yeast and salt) is the foundation for both calzones and stromboli.
  • Egg wash: Both calzones and stromboli often get an egg wash before baking. The egg wash makes the outside of the dish shiny and golden, but it's not necessary.
  • Cooking method: Both calzones and strombolis are typically baked in the same ovens used to make pizza. (Mini calzones are sometimes deep-fried.)


Despite their shared ingredients, calzones and strombolis have different shapes and histories.

  • Origins: The calzone originated in Naples, Italy, while the stromboli comes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can find calzones in Italian restaurants around the world, but stromboli is rare outside of Philadelphia.
  • Fillings: A stromboli is usually filled with tomato sauce, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and ham. There's no limit to what can go inside a calzone — ricotta cheese, cured meats, Italian sausage. If it can go on a pizza, it can go in a calzone.
  • Dipping sauce: Calzones often come with a side of marinara sauce, while stromboli typically already have the tomato sauce inside.
  • Dough shape: The shape is a dead giveaway. Strombolis are rolled up, like a jelly roll cake, while calzones are folded into a half-moon shape and crimped, like an apple turnover.