Just like George Steinbrenner, I love a good calzone. That’s a Seinfeld reference in case you didn’t know. On the show, George Costanza works for the Yankees under the legendary Steinbrenner. When Costanza brings a calzone in for lunch, Big Stein becomes enamored with the food and demands George to get him one. I too am enamored with calzones. Growing up, I was never a huge fan of pizza. I just didn’t appreciate the sauce and the cheese (although I do now), but I did love the crust. When I discovered the calzone, which is mostly all crust and can be filled with everything that you like on a pizza, it was a happy medium. I felt like it was made just for me.
Like pizza, calzones originated in Naples. It was designed to be a kind of walk-around pizza that you could travel with (the Naples pizza back then was damp in the middle and had to be eaten with knife and fork). In fact, the word calzone literally translates to “pants legs” giving the indication that these were meant to be on the go (although that’s an odd choice for a name). I feel like in today’s world, it’s just the opposite where pizza is good for being on the run while a calzone is more of the knife and fork meal. It’s really just a turnover, but much better.
Today, Lola had a meeting in Boston and she wouldn’t be home for dinner. This meant that I could indulge in a calzone for my bachelor supper. I have had calzones from all the local pizza places and they are reasonably good (Martino’s brushes theirs with a garlic butter and is outstanding), but I have heard about another pizza restaurant about a mile and a half away that has good calzones. The source for this intel is my sister-in-law Cherie and I will always take her advice on anything pizza. The place is called Rocco’s Little Italy Pizzaria. I looked at their menu and then as I was driving home from work, I called in my order for pick up. I ordered something called a Lasagna Calzone which was made with Italian sausage, home made meatballs, ricotta and mozzarella. Sounded good, right? The guy on the phone who took my order seemed a little too laid-back, like a textbook surfer dude, so I was a bit worried but still I made my way there.
When I got there, the place was hopping. There was a small wait for people looking for a table. This surprised me as I never saw Rocco’s as a place where you would go to eat, but apparently I’m missing out. It did have that small pizza parlor charm to it complete with red and white checkered tablecloths. When the guy behind the counter saw me, he asked how I could help and I told him I was there to pick up my calzone. I realized this was the guy who took my order, and in person, he still seemed a bit confused. Nonetheless, he said it would just take another minute or so, which was fine. I paid and then sat down to wait. I was probably there for about five minutes although it could have been a bit longer because I got lost in my phone. There was a girl behind the counter now and when she saw me, she asked what I was waiting for and I told her a calzone. Then she started looking around. She looked to the cook, the cook looked back at her, a moment of confusion ensued and then the cook reached up and pulled a box from atop the oven. It was my calzone. He gave it to me but as he handed it over he told me in a friendly tone that it had just come out of the oven. This perplexed me because I saw him grab it from the top of the oven and it had clearly not come right out of the oven. He saw me watch him take it from the top of the oven too. Also, the bottom of the box was super warm as if it had been sitting on top of an oven. I didn’t care. It wasn’t a long wait at all, but I just couldn’t understand why he told me it came from the oven. I left feeling a bit odd about my experience there, but I took my calzone and made my way home. It smelled fabulous and filled the car with a great aroma. When I got home, I cut it in half (saving half for Lola) and then dug in.
Wow, was this good. It too was brushed with garlic butter so it had that delightful fragrance in every bite. Inside was perfectly stuffed with both the meatballs and the sausage – not too much or too little. The star was the ricotta and mozzarella which were fused together in light, creamy but stringy bites of joy. The crust was perfect too giving you enough hardy texture in every bite to keep it all together. This could have been one of my top five calzones ever. I had been to Rocco’s once before but I don’t think I got a calzone. I’m going to keep them in our rotation now for the next time we are craving calzones (I’ll just now to be patient). When Lola got home, I heated her up the other half and she found it to be just as good as I had. It was nice to have a hot meal waiting for her when she came home as she had been working hard all day in preparation. Plus she was surprised to have a calzone too, especially one that was this good. Maybe when she has her next meeting, we’ll go out to Rocco’s and live it up a little to celebrate. That’s what the magic of National Calzone Day can leave you feeling.
Next Up: National Deviled Egg Day
(Info from EaterNY.com)