Stromboli vs Calzone: What Is the Difference?

Comment author avatar
S.A. Yanes Modified: September 16, 2022
Stromboli vs Calzone: What Is the Difference?
Table Of Contents

Both incredible Italian dishes enjoyed by many, stromboli and calzone are essentially portable renditions of pizza. The two are typically composed of dough, cheese, and fillings. And with similarities in ingredients and cooking methods, people often confuse them with one another. However, there are clear distinctions between these two food items in sealing techniques, appearance, fillings, and origins.

In this article, we’ll break down their differences to finally settle the
stromboli vs calzone debacle once and for all. Continue reading so you’ll know exactly what to order on your next visit to your favorite Italian restaurant or pizzeria!

What Is a Stromboli?

stromboli sandwich with tomato sauce on the side

Stromboli, albeit a portable pizza variant, is actually a pinwheel sandwich. It consists of pizza dough stuffed with cold cuts or Italian meats, different cheeses, and tomato sauce. Like an Italian hoagie, it can also contain various vegetables like in a breakfast stromboli. Stromboli can be served with side dishes like soups or salads, as it can be considered a main dish. 

Now you would probably think it originated in Italy. But, no, stromboli traces its roots back to the Italian-American neighborhoods of South Philadelphia in the 1950s. Nazzareno Romano, the owner of Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, invented the stromboli. 

As for why it is called stromboli, well, there are two speculations. Some say this food is named after the Isle of Stromboli, where the giant volcano called Mt. Stromboli is found. Others speculate that Romano took inspiration from the classic Italian-American movie Stromboli (1950).

What Is a Calzone?

homemade fresh baked closed calzone pizza

At its core, calzone, also sometimes called pizza turnover, is folded in half and shaped like a crescent moon. Its ingredients are similar to what you usually put in a regular pizza including Italian deli meats and veggies. Though calzones are often made with ricotta alongside different types of cheeses like mozzarella or parmesan. 

Originating in Naples, Italy in the 18th century, the name calzone or calzoni translates to “pants legs”. Some assume it’s named as such because it resembles puffy trousers and also alludes to its pocket-sized portability

Many ask if calzone is just a folded pizza. In essence, yes. Back then, Italians used a knife and fork to eat pizza. Eventually, the locals thought of a portable way to savor the delicacy a bit more casually without utensils by creating the calzone. This sandwich-sized folded pizza could be eaten while standing and on the move.

Did you know?

  • There are also many comparisons between calzone and panzerotti. Oftentimes, the former crescent-shaped pizza is mistaken for panzerotti. However, panzerotti is much smaller in size, deep-fried, and more akin to the pizza pockets we’re familiar with.

What Is the Difference Between Stromboli and Calzone?

difference between stromboli vs calzone

These two pizzeria staples have similar flavor profiles as they use the same ingredients in terms of dough, meats, cheeses, and fillings. And due to those commonalities, it can be quite confusing to compare calzone vs stromboli and pinpoint exactly how they differ.

To help you, here’s a rundown of the factors that will distinguish them from one another:

Sealing Techniques

The main difference between stromboli and calzone comes down to their structure, but more specifically the folding and sealing techniques used for each dish. On the whole, the similarities they share are the use of rolled-out pizza dough and fillings. Past that point, however, their processes differ. 

With stromboli, the dough is sort of rolled into a spiral like a burrito. In a stromboli, you’ll see alternating layers of fillings and dough resembling a pinwheel sandwich. Folding the extra dough also helps secure the fillings inside.

Meanwhile, you can compare a calzone to a taco. In other words, the dough is simply folded in half, creating a half-moon shape. To seal, the edges are usually pressed with a fork or a rolling pin. As it doesn’t require remarkable skills, a homemade calzone recipe can be easier to replicate, to say the least.

Shape and Size

Given the distinct folding and sealing techniques, it’s only natural for stromboli and calzone to vary in shape and size. Basically, a stromboli is a cylindrically-shaped sandwich. It can be quite hefty after cooking as the dough expands. This makes it the perfect food for a group of people as it is quite big and filling. 

On the other hand, you can describe calzone as a crescent moon-shaped pizza. This shape and size make it a single-serving type of food. 


Stromboli and calzone share some key ingredients, namely: pizza dough, Italian deli meats or cured meats, cheese, and vegetables. However, stromboli uses pizza dough or French bread dough, while calzones customarily make use of pizza dough. They also have some differences in ingredients in terms of fillings.

Stromboli usually consists of cold cuts that are commonly found in a sandwich rather than a pizza, including salami (like Genoa salami and hard salami), as well as capicola. This dish also utilizes low-moisture mozzarella cheese in the filling. Using this type of cheese ensures an even cook all throughout the sandwich.

Alternatively, you’ll find that while calzones also use similar meats and veggies in the filling, the distinction lies with the cheeses used. Ricotta cheese is also a defining quality of a calzone. Pizzerias often use this cheese in combination with mozzarella or parmesan. This gives a gooey texture to the filling. However, keep note that the components of calzone in the US might be different from the authentic Italian version. Ingredients used also vary depending on the location. 


You can also distinguish stromboli from calzone based on where the sauce is. When making stromboli, spread the sauce on the dough alongside the fillings before rolling it up. Generally, you can always find the sauce within the stromboli similar to a pizza. 

Now if both are pizza variants, then do calzones have sauce inside too? The simple answer is no. For the calzone, instead of incorporating the sauce when baking, the marinara sauce is served on the side for dipping.

Cooking Method

Both are traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven to unravel their texture and taste. If you want crispy crusts, the recommended temperature is around 450 degrees F. You should know that baking times vary with these doughy foods. Basically, cooking a stromboli takes more time than a calzone due to the layers of dough. Strombolis usually take around 20 to 25 minutes depending on their size. Meanwhile, 10 to 15 minutes is enough time for baking calzones.


Of course, we can’t forget about the origins of stromboli and calzone when talking about their differences. At first glance, you would think they both have Italian roots but one is not like the other! Simply put, the calzone is authentically Italian as it hails from Naples, Italy. The stromboli, however, is of Italian-American descent. Specifically, it originated from Philly. 

Which Is Healthier, Stromboli or Calzone?

The calories in calzone and stromboli vary depending on the fillings they contain. Obviously, the more fillings there are, the higher the calories will be. Vegetarian calzones will be healthier as they typically come with ricotta and spinach fillings. You can also say the same thing about strombolis containing lighter ingredients. If you want to keep your health in check but still want to enjoy a tasty portable pizza, opt for ones with veggies instead of meat-filled options.

Stromboli vs. Calzone: Totally Different but Equally Delicious

Stromboli and calzone are not the same. It’s true that both are pizza variants that utilize pizza dough, cheese, meats, and vegetables. However, they have different origins, fillings, and shapes. They also differ in folding and sealing techniques. Nonetheless, whichever side you’re on in the stromboli vs. calzone showdown, you’re sure to have a terrific pizza night!

Read Next: What Is Capicola? (Plus Recipes to Try!)

S.A. Yanes

S.A. Yanes is a fiction writer, poet, book blogger, and content editor. At, she writes food ingredient guides, product reviews, and more. Prior to that, she has worked in a publishing house and was the brand manager of an up-and-coming writing and reading online platform. She has written numerous short fictions as well as engaging bible stories for children. She's also a certified foodie with an immense love for anything cheesy and chocolatey.