close up of pizza fritta just out of fryer on brown paper catching grease.
Home » Italian Food » What Are Panzerotti & Where To Eat Them In Italy – Advice From A Local 

What Are Panzerotti & Where To Eat Them In Italy – Advice From A Local 

How many times have you flipped through an Italian cookbook and come across panzerotti or passed by signs for panzerotti when traveling through Italy?

If you love Italian food and cooking then you are probably fascinated by what is a panzerotti and where to eat them in Italy. I was determined to try the real thing and finally, after moving to Italy over ten years ago, I have had numerous opportunities to eat my fill. 

In this article I will answer all your questions when it comes to panzerotti including:

  • what is a panzerotti and how to pronounce it in Italian
  • panzerotti vs calzone
  • stromboli vs panzerotti vs calzone
  • Where to eat panzerotti in Italy

So the next time you head to Southern Italy, keep this panzerotti guide handy and you are sure to get your fill, just as I have! 

How To Pronounce Panzerotti

Panzerotti is pronounced pahn-zehr-oht-tee in Italian. 

Listen to the pronunciation of panzerotti here:

What Does Panzerotti Mean?

Panzerotti comes from the Italian slang of pancia, panza, meaning belly, referring to the similarities between a full belly and the puffy panzerotti as they fry and puff up. 

What Are Panzerotti?

Freshly fried panzerotti sitting on paper that's soaking up the oil.

A panzerotto, the singular form of panzerotti, is a fried pizza-like turnover from Puglia in Italy, oftentimes comparable to a small deep fried calzone.

The original and most common type of panzerotti are made with pizza dough and most typically filled with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese but you will also find them filled with all sorts of ingredients similar to authentic Italian pizza toppings.

Typically, the size of panzerotti is small, like a sandwich that you can eat on the go with one hand.

Panzerotti dough is usually the same, or very similar to pizza dough, made from water, flour and yeast. 

Panzerotti Fillings

close up of venetian prosciutto side view.

A panzerotti can be filled with just about anything, just as a pizza can be topped with just about anything. 

Below is a list of common panzerotti fillings and varieties:

What Do Panzerotti Taste Like

Panzerotti taste similar to a pizza, depending on the toppings but are characterized by their crunchy, crispy exterior and pillowy interior.

If you order a freshly fried classic panzerotti with sauce and cheese, the filling may ooze out just as freshly baked calzone. If, however, the panzerotti is served room temperature, the filling will have cooled off and won’t have this same effect. 

Where To Eat Panzerotti In Italy

view of pizza in naples with stone ground and large pillars holding up the building with man in fore ground on right hand side.
My husband, Pietro, in Naples – a great place to try panzerotti

The best places to eat panzerotti while visiting Italy is in the whole southern boot of the Italian peninsula. Even though panzerotti were invented in Puglia, all of Southern Italy has adopted this deep-fried street food (although they may be called differently). 

Best Italian cities to eat panzerotti in: 

  • Salerno
  • Naples
  • Foggia
  • Bari
  • Lecce
  • Taranto
  • Cosena
  • Catanzaro

Other Names For Panzerotti

Panzerotti can be found throughout all of Southern Italy where you will also find it labeled and referred to in several other ways. 

In Campania, locals call them calzoni fritti, meaning “fried calzones” or pizze fritte, meaning fried pizzas. This is because a panzerotto is basically a small fried calzone. 

In some areas of Puglia, panzerotti are known as frittelli, meaning “fritters” or fritte. 

Good To Know: Don’t confuse frittelli with frittelle, which are small deep fried balls of dough, served as a dessert or snack.

Stromboli Vs Panzerotti Vs Calzone

So what’s the difference between stromboli vs panzerotti vs calzone? Let’s take a closer look:

Crescent shapeCrescent shapeCircle shape
Size of handLarge, about the size of half a large pizzaFits in palm of hand
Pizza doughPizza doughPizza dough 
Italian inventionItalian inventionAmerican invention
Eat in ItalyEat in Italy and USAEat in USA
Deep FriedBakedBaked

Panzerotti Vs Calzone

a vegetable calzone on a white plate on black background.

Calzone are basically a pizza folded in half and baked. The dough is rolled flat, half is filled with pizza toppings such as sauce, cheese and other ingredients such as olives, prosciutto, etc. and the top is folded over and crimped at the edges. 

The calzone is then baked at a high temperature, just like a pizza and served piping hot, eaten sitting down with a knife and fork, similar to how you might eat a pizza.

Good To Know: A calzone that you eat in the USA is going to be very different from the one you eat in Italy. In America, they are made with ricotta and much heavier while in Italy they are made strictly with the same ingredients that are made to top a pizza. 

Panzerotti are smaller and considered more of a street food, a quick lunch or an on-the-go snack in Southern Italy. Instead of being baked, they are fried and can be enjoyed piping hot or at room temperature. 

Stromboli Vs Panzerotti

Stromboli stuffed with prosciutto and olives.

Stromboli are an Italo-American food invented by Italian immigrants in America. Stomboli are made with pizza dough that is filled with various Italian ingredients such as cheese, cold cuts and other pizza toppings like onions or artichokes. 

The dough is rolled up, similar to a jelly roll, proofed and then baked until golden. The stromboli is then sliced and eaten as an appetizer, sometimes with marinara sauce for dipping. 

Fact: You will not find stromboli in Italy. 

Panzerotti may include similar fillings to a stromboli but the process and cooking methods are completely different. You can find panzerotti in Italy while stromboli are available in the United States. 

Panzerotti FAQ

What are panzerotti di patate di salentini?

Panzerotti di patate from Salerno are a completely different food then the traditional panzerotti, more similar to a potato croquette, known as crocchè made from a mixture of mashed potato and egg which are breaded and deep fried. 

What’s the difference between calzones, panzerotti, and stromboli? 

Calzones and panzerotti are similar in shape but not size, with similar fillings. Calzones and stromboli are baked while panzerotti are deep fried. A stromboli is made in a completely different method, rolled and sliced as a jelly-roll. All three are made with pizza dough.

Can you make panzerotti with store-bought pizza dough?

Yes, you can. The texture may be a bit more gummy so be sure to roll the dough thin enough and to fry them well to ensure the dough is cooked through.