What is the Difference between Calzone and Stromboli?

Rarely do you walk into a pizza joint with the intention of buying anything but a slice or pie. However, on occasion, you may be lured by the sight of other delicacies on display. And when you see these delicacies, you may wonder exactly what they are and how they differ from each other.


A turnover with ingredients similar to pizza, calzones were first made in Naples, Italy during the 18th century. If you are wondering why someone would order a calzone for delivery near you instead of a slice, keep in mind that pizza in Naples had to be eaten on the premises with a knife and fork, while the calzone could be eaten on the fly — perhaps the reason the name calzone translates into pants legs. 

Calzones are so easy to eat while walking or standing that sandwich-sized calzones are a popular item often sold by Italian street vendors or at lunch counters throughout Naples. They usually contain the same ingredients as pizza — mozzarella, ricotta, and tomato sauce as well as mushrooms, onions, and peppers. These ingredients are then folded over in a crescent moon shape and baked or fried. They come in many sizes, from small to huge, with an infinite variety of stuffings.


Related to a calzone, a Stromboli is closer to a sandwich than a pizza. If is commonly filled with different types of cheese, Italian meats such as capicola or salami, and for those trying to stay healthy, vegetables. These ingredients are then rolled into a loaf and baked. A key distinction between the calzone and the Stromboli is that sauce is on the inside of a Stromboli and served on the side of a calzone.

The origin of the Stromboli is a little murky, but this Super Bowl party fave may have originated in the 1950s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Spokane, Washington, depending on the tale you believe. Yes, unlike pizza and calzone, the Stromboli did not originate from Italy.

Unless you know your 1940s black and & white films, it’s unlikely that you would associate a wildly popular Swedish movie star and a Philadelphia suburban pizzeria with the Stromboli. One story goes that the Stromboli originated in Spokane, Washington and was named after the movie Stromboli, starring Ingrid Bergman. Directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring Ingrid Bergman, the movie may be better known for the scandal of the affair between Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini than the merits of the acting or convolutions of the plot.

However, in Essington, Pennsylvania, a small town south of Philadelphia, a drama was also unfolding. Nazzereno Romano, the proprietor of Romano’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, rolled up cold cuts and cheese into a pizza dough. He baked the loaf and sliced it open to show off the tantalizing array of ingredients contained within.

Who knows why he called it “Stromboli” – perhaps ‘Nat’ Romano was an avid tabloid reader. Whatever the reason, the name stuck, and Stromboli became a popular staple of the Italian-American gastronomic lexicon.

Whether you call it a Stromboli, a calzone or a baked sub, the result is a tasty and delicious Italian-inspired treat you can eat on the go.