Exploding the Boundaries of the Classic Calzone

Like burgers and pizzas before them, the internationally recognized calzone is undergoing an explosion of flavor giving restaurants a highly beneficial addition to their menus.

Creative pizza operators have taken the traditional meat and cheese turnover and given them a style makeover that incorporates the widest array of international flavors.

Chefs are exploding the calzone boundaries by infusing the Italian style turnover with the same kind of creativity they apply to their entrees.  While Italian in nature, chefs are saying that calzones do not have to be confined to a certain flavor profile.

Classic calzones made with pepperoni and cheese remain the most pepperoni calzonepopular version of this “pizza in a pocket.”   However, adventurous restaurant operators are adding flavorful options and getting top dollar for them.

Classic calzones are usually made with pizza dough consisting of flour, yeast, olive oil, water, and salt.  Folded in a half-moon shape, traditional calzones are made with marinara sauce spread at the bottom of the dough. Chefs will then add mozzarella cheese and a hefty amount of pepperoni then fold and brush with beaten egg and Parmesan cheese.  They finish them in the oven or fryer.

But there is no end to the new types of calzone interpretations.  In addition to pepperoni, ham, cheese and sausage, chefs are adding spinach, eggplant, barbecue chicken, blue cheese and other ingredients to create their own signature gourmet calzone.  We have even seen Tex-Mex and mini-shrimp calzones.

It was a natural evolution for chefs to take the ever-popular calzone and give it the gourmet treatment. Additionally, while classic meat and cheese calzones sell for around $6, the new slate of offerings allow restaurants to charge as much as $15 for a nouveau calzone.

For instance, Dasano Pizza Bakery in Charleston, SC, makes a calzone with authentic buffalo mozzarella, imported Italian flour, fresh basil, a generous helping of sausage, crisp rapini and then cook them in ovens made from volcanic rock hailing from Mount Vesuvius.

How about the calzone that won a chef’s competition last year in Boston made with lobster, guanciale and mascarpone.

At Pizzeria Locale in Denver, they don’t even call them calzones. Their Ripieno Scarola features smoked mozzarella, escarole, anchovy, black olive, red onion, and garlic while a red version called Ripieno Classicoa includes tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, prosciutto cotto, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil.

Another recipe takes a chicken pesto route by stuffing the dough with pesto, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes; sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese and seasoned chicken breast.

The chef at Hey Lucy in Toronto serves a classic baked calzone with pepperoni and cheese and offers three other styles: a vegetarian stuffed with garden vegetables; a roast chicken with caramelized onion and mushrooms; and the Florentine with chicken, bacon, sundried tomato and spinach.

Often times, a restaurant will use a bread dough rather than pizza dough to change up their calzones.  Of course, savvy chefs offer organic and gluten-free calzones to cater to customers with those dietary needs.

Next to pizza, calzones may be the most internationally recognizable Italian foodstuff.  In South America, they call them empanadas; in Scotland, a savory turnover is called a Bridie; there is also the German-Russian Fleischkuekle.

No matter what you call it, the calzone has received an exciting makeover that allows restaurants the opportunity to be creative, add dimension to their menu and increase their sales.