Food You Can Eat: Stromboli

I have a feeling this is about as Italian as James Caan. It plays Italian, but may not be.

Image of pre-pandemic Feast of San Gennaro via In the front left, that's Better Half glaring at me as I order my third stromboli slice of the afternoon.

As I write this, the Feast of San Gennaro is winding down in Manhattan’s Little Italy. As you can see from the header picture, you have to be in fighting trim to fully experience its wonder. Since I’m still waylaid, I didn’t go this year, and last year it was canceled, so it’s been a while for me and I miss it.

To compensate, I made my own stromboli. This Feast staple (along with cannoli; zeppole; Italian ices; calzones; sausage, pepper and onion heroes; & etc.) really makes the experience, and it’s easy enough to make yourself. Better Half hates the Feast, because as he once uncharitably put it, “It’s half Staten Island and half tourists from—“ “Where is your sense of gioia di vivere, Better Half!” “Whatever that is, I left it back in the apartment, where I wish I was now.”  

This makes more than enough for 2, but it is Ravenous Hound-friendly, and leftovers can be heated up and crisped in the oven within the next day or two.

Some flour for your “workspace”

1 lb. pizza dough, thawed if frozen

2 or 3 tbsp. butter, melted

3 oz. (at least) parmesan cheese, grated

8 oz. pepperoni, sliced

8 oz. salami, sliced

4 oz. prosciutto, sliced

8 oz. mozzarella, shredded

[A note here: the parmesan you will grate yourself, and you will shred the mozzarella. Don’t buy any pre-packaged. For the meats, you’ll be buying this at a deli counter and the person will whisk it off to the meat-cutting wheel before you can stop them, so let them. I (nowadays Better Half) sometimes buy unsliced meat when I need to cube it and not use it in sandwiches, and getting unsliced meat is more difficult than it sounds, at least around here.]

2 small—medium eggs, beaten

Some oregano from the spice rack

Marinara sauce. You can make your own but for this I think you’re better off buying a good jar version. I use Rao’s.

Flour the “workspace” and roll out the dough so it’s pretty thin. I think it should be about a foot (12”, 30.48 cm.) by about a foot and a half (18”, 60.96 cm.) Cut the dough in two, so you have 12” by 9” halves.

With the 12” sides facing you at waist level, brush with the butter. Sprinkle over the parmesan. Layer the pepperoni, then the salami, then prosciutto, then the mozzarella. leaving a small border, 1/2”-1”, barren of the meat and the mozzarella.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Behold your handiwork. Pour yourself a plastic cup of cheap white wine, perhaps adulterated with a fruit juice, like they do at the Feast.

Now. With the long sides facing you, carefully roll them away from you so you achieve 2 stromboli logs. Pinch the ends together so the contents won’t spill out. 

Put the two logs on a baking sheet, seam side down, side by side and not touching. Brush with the beaten egg and make a few diagonal slits on top to let the steam escape while cooking. Shake over the oregano and into the oven it goes, until the tops turn a nice golden brown. All your ingredients are pre-cooked so it’s not food poisoning you fear, but lukewarm filling, which is gross. In my gas oven this takes about 25 minutes but yours might take longer. While they’re baking, warm but do not boil some marinara sauce. 

If you discover to your disappointment that the center of your stromboli is not piping hot, no worries, as people used to say 20 years ago, just put them back and be patient.

So you have all this stromboli…traditionally, at the Feast, this is sliced and consumed off a paper plate while walking through a crowd and elbowing your way to the Cannoli Eating Contest. In the absence of that, cut each stromboli in half, spoon over the warm marinara, and serve with a garden salad. Pre-marinara, you and your dining companion will cut one small slice from the center of your stromboli and top the Ravenous Hound’s kibble with it, so he can spiritually join you in celebrating the Feast.

Late-breaking development: Infallible wikipedia tells me that stromboli is a native of Philadelphia, not Naples.



    • That I had never heard before. I suppose it is sacramental in its own way.

  1. I will eat the hell out of a stromboli.

  2. My sister worked at a restaurant of that name that made a great one & she still makes them.  Really good stuff.

  3. I’ve never had stromboli, I thought it was like a calzone but not really.

    Thanks to the googles, I found a few places I could try. Turns out they are New York style pizzerias, which is why I haven’t had one because I stick with St. Louis style pizza when I get pizza.

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