Calzones (or calzoni, if you’re in Italy), stromboli, pizza rolls, Sicilian schiacciata. There’s really no consensus on what these are supposed to be.
By most accounts, calzones are half-moons of pizza dough folded over a filling that usually contains ricotta or other cheese, vegetables and deli meats. Sometimes they’re served with marinara or another sauce. Log-shaped stromboli are an Italian-American invention, wrapped around the usual pizza fillings or a chicken-and-cheese filling. Pizza rolls are a frozen commercial product or a mom’s name for the pizza-like spinoff she makes for her kids. Sicilian schiacciata is made by baking the dough halfway, splitting and filling it, then baking it a second time to create a delicious something that walks the line between pizza and panino.
On Chowhound or Yelp, you could no doubt find differing opinions on everything I just said. There are enough regional variations and vivid memories to counter each and every assertion. Basically, though, I think all of these are born of the same impulse that makes New York pizza eaters fold over a huge, floppy slice and walk off down the street. It’s not only a way of getting the thing into your hand, but of putting all the crust on the outside, for no reason but the pleasure of crunching down into a soft and savory filling.
The other variable about pizza foldovers is size. I was startled to see, on my first visit to Sicily, that one calzone could sprawl across an entire plate. Basically, we’re free to make these any size we want. Recently I experimented with one of my recipes for calzoni, downsizing them to party-size dimensions. They were fine, but fussy to make. So, instead, I patted and stretched the pizza dough to make rectangles for filling and rolling. Cut crosswide, they made great party pick-ups.
What were they? Stromboli? Well, not exactly. Pizza rolls? Maybe–you decide.
Pizza Rolls Filled with Escarole, Smoked Mozzarella and Dried Sausage
(Adapted from Piatto Unico: When One Course Makes a Real Italian Meal)
Makes 20 to 24 hors d’oeuvres
1 head escarole, cored (or substitute spinach or chard)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ounces cacciatorini or other dried sausage, Genoa salami or soppressata, cut in small squares (about 2/3 cup)
1 pound pizza dough, homemade or purchased
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella, Scamorza or imported provolone
1. Wash the escarole well, changing the water until no grit remains. Cut the leaves in shreds.
2. Fill a large saucepan two-thirds full of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook the escarole until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain well, pressing with a spatula to help eliminate liquid.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft and golden; stir in the garlic, cooking just until fragrant. Stir in the drained escarole and sausage, cooking for a few minutes to blend the flavors; cool and mix in the cheese.
4. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the pizza dough in 2 pieces. Roll and pat one of them to make a rectangle slightly smaller than the dimensions of the sheet.
5. Spoon half of the filling on the rectangle, leaving a ½-inch border. Starting at one long side, roll the dough around the filling to make a roll. With a sharp knife, slash the dough in a couple of places to allow steam to escape. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
6. Place the rolls side by side on the baking sheet. Bake on the center rack until well browned and some of the filling oozes out the vents, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and cut each roll crosswise in 2-bite pieces.