Panzerotti originated in central and southern Italy, especially in Apulia. They are small versions of the calzone, but produced with a softer dough. The most common fillings are mozzarella, mushrooms, and ham are often used.

Agostino Luini brought panzerotti to the northern Italian city of Milan in the late 1940s, setting up shop near that city's Gothic cathedral. Panificio Figli Luini's proximity to the Duomo, the Galleria, and the via Dante pedestrian zone has made the panzerotti widely known among both Milanese and tourists. Luini has gone on to open a London café, since renamed "Sfizio".

The analogous word, pansoti, is used in the Genoa area for stuffed pasta similar to tortellini.

In America the word has come to be spelled "panzarotti", and is regarded as singular (with the plural being "panzarotties" or "panzarotti"). They can come in various sizes from 4" to 12",and are most commonly semi-circular shaped.

It consists of a pocket of dough filled with varying amounts of melted mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and any reasonable number of fillings, which is then wrapped, salted, and deep-fried. The panzarotti rises during this process, creating a pocket containing a considerable amount of steam which should be partially released prior to eating.

Panzarottis are available throughout the United States in various Italian cuisine restaurants.

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