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Little Deli's Tony Villani Defines The Calzone

Little Deli and Pizzeria owner Tony Villani grew up in New Jersey, and he knows from calzones. His first job was working on the boardwalk in Seaside Park, and "cut his teeth" in an Italian and Greek restaurant as a teenager. Little Deli serves several varieties of calzone, and Villani defines it thusly:

Northeast-wise, a traditional calzone should be a blend of cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, and maybe provolone. We blend romano, ricotta, and mozzerela. The national chains are what introduced calzones to a wider audience, like a Domino's pepperoni roll, and that's when toppings got introduced. We do offer a pepperoni calzone, and a spinach and mushroom. The secret is you can put whatever you want in a calzone. I'm kind of a traditionalist. I like a plain cheese, served with marinara on the side. That's the way it ought to be.

Calzones should be big as your plate, not a tiny empanada. You have to use whole milk mozzarella. If you use part skim you might was well wrap it in plastic and reheat it a microwave.

Why get a calzone? It's a self-contained meal. Not that I'm not into sharing, but having a nice glass of wine, simple salad and a calzone, oh my gosh, that's it, I'm done. You're getting that gooey ricotta mixed with mozzarella, sort of like a lasagna, and it's a nice thick crust, baked fresh. I like to cut a hole in the top of my calzone and pour sauce in there. I love picking pieces off of crust and eating the inside. I'm weird that way. I feel right at home eating a calzone.

[Photo: Little Deli/Facebook]