A panzerotto (Italian: [pantseˈrɔtto]) ( listen (help·info)), also known as panzarotto (Italian: [pantsaˈrɔtto]), is a savory turnover which resembles a small calzone, both in shape and in the dough used for its preparation. The term usually applies to a fried turnover rather than an oven-baked pastry (i.e. a calzone), though calzoni and panzerotti are often mistaken for each other.
Panzerotto originates in Central and Southern Italian cuisine but is now popular in the United States and Canada as well, where it is often called panzerotti ( listen (help·info)) or panzarotti as a singular noun (plural panzerotties/panzarotties or panzarottis/panzarottis).
The noun panzerotto comes from a diminutive of panza, a regional variation of Italian pancia ("belly, tummy"), referring to the distinctive swelling of the pastry which reminds of belly bloating in a figurative sense.
Panzerotti originated in Central and Southern Italy, especially in the Apulian cuisine. They are basically small versions of calzoni but are usually fried rather than oven-baked, that is why they are also known as calzoni fritti ("fried calzones") or pizze fritte ("fried pizzas") in Italy, most typically in Campania. In parts of Apulia, such as Molfetta and Mola di Bari (both in the Metropolitan City of Bari), panzerotti also go by the name of frittelle or frittelli ("fritters"), while in Brindisi they are known as fritte (a local variation of frittelle). One can also find boiled panzerotti, similar to ravioli.
The most common fillings for this turnover are tomato and mozzarella, but spinach, mushrooms, baby corn and ham are often used. Another filling is onions stir fried in olive oil and seasoned with salted anchovies and capers, a seasoning which, mixed with bread, is also used for stuffed bell peppers in Apulia.
A different recipe for panzerotti is panzerotti di patate ("potato panzerottis"), a specialty from Salento which consists of mashed potato croquettes rather than panzerotti as the term is most typically intended.
Panzerotti are also consumed in North America, where they were imported by Southern Italian immigrants at the time of the Italian diaspora.
As for their shape and texture, they can come in various sizes, from 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm),[original research?] and are most commonly semicircular. They consist of a pocket of dough filled with varying amounts of melted mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and any reasonable number of fillings, which is then wrapped, salted and deep-fried. Panzerotto rises during this process, creating a pocket containing a considerable amount of steam which should be partially released prior to eating.