Panzerotti: Filled Turnovers


Panzerotti are a popular street food, especially in southern Italy. They are small fried turnovers made of simple dough, usually filled with cheese, ham, and tomato sauce. However, you may also find other fillings.

The name panzerotti (singular “panzerotto”) reportedly comes from the Italian word “panza”, which means “belly”. The food is said to resemble a swollen belly with its puffed-up shape.

Panzerotti with breadcrumbs filled with cheese
Panzerotti with breadcrumbs filled with cheese

If you are a pizza lover, a reversed pizza called calzone, or simply melted cheese, then you will fall in love with panzerotti. It is a quick and tasty snack, the combination of crispy fried dough and warm cheese with other fillings is simply perfect.

Panzerotti inside
Panzerotti inside

Within panzerotti, you may encounter two different variations – the dough can (but doesn’t have to) be coated in breadcrumbs before frying. One small panzerotto filled with cheese and coated in breadcrumbs before frying costs 1 Euro, and I like to have it at my favorite Fratelli de Paolo bakery in Matera.

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In addition to small panzerotti, you may also come across much larger versions, which may resemble another Italian dish called calzone.

Large panzerotto
Large panzerotto
Large panzerotto inside
Large panzerotto inside

Difference between panzerotti and calzone

The fillings of panzerotti and calzone can be very similar, but you can reliably distinguish them by the method of preparation. Panzerotti are always fried, while calzone is prepared in a pizza oven and baked.

One large piece of panzerotto filled with cheese, mozzarella, and ham costs 1.80 Euros, and you can get it at a bakery with a similar name, de Palo, in Matera.

Bon appetit!

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