So wait, what is a calzone, anyway?
At this point, it might be helpful to go over what a calzone is in modern American cuisine, and perhaps more importantly, what it isn't:
A calzone in its Platonic form is a half-moon pocket of dough, stuffed with ricotta cheese and mozzarella, with a variety of extra ingredients -- commonly pizza-centric meats like pepperoni and ham, or veggies like spinach and broccoli -- potentially included. Now, it's important to note the difference between a stromboli and a calzone, two commonly confused casual Italian dishes. If calzones are pizza's kid brother, then stromboli is like the annoying cousin, always trying to butt in on the fun. The stromboli is a pinwheel, and more like a rolled sandwich than an inside-out pizza. A dish born solely of American-Italian influence, the stromboli purportedly was invented just outside Philly in the 1950s, and named after an Ingrid Bergman film. It does not come from the Old Country. Key rule here: If sauce is on the side, you're looking at a calzone. It's that simple. If you still don't get it, I'll let the venerable Hungry Howies explain.
In the physical sense, pizza and calzones are obviously distinct. And in culinary terms, there are some key reasons why preparing and making calzones differs from traditional pizza-making, even if they are ostensibly the same.
"I always teach my students how to make calzones, too," said Laura Meyer, head chef/pizzaiola at Tony's Pizza Napoletana and an instructor at the International School of Pizza. "They can be just as easy to make as pizza… and just as difficult."
We might need to cut through that Yogi Berra-esque koan....
"A lot of young pizza makers tend to complicate things, they have a hard time wrapping their minds around turning a spherical ball of dough into a flat, round pizza. With calzones, the shape itself is a little easier to wrap your mind around when cooking. But, you have to be so careful wrapping the dough. It's incredibly easy for the dough to split or rip. There's not much room for error, and in a lot of ways, it takes more finesse than pizza. So, I think it's important to teach calzones, if only to try and instill a sense of touch and subtlety," she said. "And it's not that much of a jump, as it's ostensibly the same thing as pizza."
But also, not.