Does the word Stromboli mean one thing in New York and another in Connecticut?

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That was the question that was posed to me on Friday morning (11/5/21). While doing my radio show, I got a text message from one of our listeners. The text comes through the I-95 Rock Mobile app and this particular message was from a woman named Michelle who lives in New Milford, CT. Michelle wrote me the following:

"Lou, question… I ordered a Stromboli from a local pizza joint. I am Italian, new to CT from NJ - and I just understood a Stromboli to be cheese, pepperoni, ham wrapped in dough and sauce on the side. I thought this was universal. To my surprise, I received just mozzarella wrapped in dough (so a giant mozzarella stick.) I’ve been debating with friends if it’s a CT thing or did I just receive a dud - how do they describe a Stromboli? With or without the meat? Do I have to order with meat specification? I never had in the past."

I was surprised to read this from Michelle, I grew up in Brewster, NY and now live in Danbury, CT. They border each other so of course I've not seen any drop-off in quality or comprehension of Italian menu items in Danbury, but as you get deeper into CT (I have) there is a degeneration of quality Italian menu items. Basically the further into "the woods" you go, the worse it gets.

But Michelle is from new Milford, how far away was she? I'm going to work off the assumption it was nearby and try and crack this riddle. I looked up the definition of a "Stromboli" and I got a bunch of results.

Dictionary.com describes it like this:

1. an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the Lipari Islands off the N coast of Sicilyfamous for its active volcano, 927 m (3040 ft) high

2. (sometimes not capitaldish consisting of pizza dough covered with cheese and tomatoesherbsmeat, etc folded into a large roll and baked

That was my baseline and I knew going forward I could zero in on the food and ignore the island information, although it is fun to know.

Then, I found myself in a cheesy wormhole reading an article from Bon Apetit that explained the difference between a calzone and a Stromboli. That was not so helpful, I already knew that calzones use ricotta and Stromboli do not. By the time I'd finished the article, I came to two conclusions, one I was starving and two, if we are going to split hairs, calzones are better than Stromboli conceptually.

Next was a website called sugardishme which described a Stromboli as "a savory Italian turnover filled with meats and cheeses."

Finally, a site called thestayathomechef, had a little more liberal definition of a Stromboli describing it as "The basics are starting with either a pizza dough or a bread dough and you stuff it with cheese, pizza sauce and cold cut meats. We like to mix it up and do different variations of our strombolis making them chicken, supreme, Philly cheese-steak and so many others."

I went on and on and on and not one place did I see a Stromboli definition or recipe that didn't include meat. I'm sorry Michelle from New Milford, the "pizza joint" you went to failed you. The people there either don't know what a Stromboli is, or they an extremely "off" day.

Save yourself the trouble and don't play guessing games, get your Stromboli where I got mine.

Lou Milano

No, that is NOT a stock photo I used, that is a picture of a Stromboli I ate this weekend purchased from the deli of my Uncle's Grocery store (Kobackers - Brewster, NY). It was as good as it looks, perfect.

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