Pepperoni Calzones and Collateral

Welcome to Pizza and a Movie! Today we are making Pepperoni Calzones instead of pizza. I have never made a calzone at home, so this was a fun changeup. I wanted these calzones to be a little heftier than just pepperoni, sauce and cheese, so I made a meat sauce with large chunks of sausage – it’s more of a Sausage and Pepperoni Calzone. Our movie today is an older movie, from 2004. Collateral, stars Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise, with Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo. Let’s get to it!

Pepperoni Calzones

This sauce will take about 40 minutes from start to finish, so go ahead and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Position the oven rack to the center-top position. Take a rimmed sheet tray and brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the surface. Set that tray aside until we are ready to bake the calzones.

Meat Sauce

We will start by browning the sausage. I have Italian sausages that I just snipped and squeezed out of their casings. Over medium heat, I browned the sausage without breaking it up too much because I want there to be large chunks of sausage.

Since this sauce is a big part of this calzone, I want the onions to have more of a presence, rather than fading into the background, so I have just sliced them, instead of dicing them. Once the onions have softened slightly, add 1/4 cup of red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond from the pan.

I have a 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that I have crushed by hand. Pour the crushed tomatoes and their juice into the pot and stir to combine. Bring this to a simmer and reduce the heat to keep a low simmer.

Like a Chicago-style pizza, where the sauce is a main character in the production, I want this sauce to be chunky, robust and to bring pops of flavor and texture. So I am adding about 10 whole cloves of frozen garlic. The garlic will cook through and become soft; it will take on a sweet garlic flavor, like roasted garlic. Add fresh cracked black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir to combine and continue simmering.

A Note on the Frozen Garlic:

I keep a bag of peeled garlic cloves in the freezer and I have noticed that the frozen garlic loses some of its sharpness through the freezing process, so I recommend using frozen garlic cloves for this recipe to achieve the softness and sweet roasted garlic flavor at the end of the relatively short cooking time of this sauce.

I have a handful of fresh herbs from my garden; several sprigs of rosemary and thyme. You can tie them up with a little piece of kitchen twine so they’re easier to fish out later. I did not do this, and it was a pain in the ass to fish out the stems. Additionally, I have some tomatoes from the garden that needed using, so I sliced them in largish pieces and added them to the sauce. Continue to let this simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes.

After about 20 minutes of simmering, the sauce should be thickened up a bit. Turn off the heat and stir in a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Overall this sauce simmered for about 30-35 minutes after the tomato sauce went into the pot. You can definitely let it go longer if you want, but a 35-minute simmer thickened it up enough for the calzone.

The Pizza Dough

This pizza dough is a one-pound dough ball that I have let sit on the counter for about 40 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper to chop the dough in half. Try to reshape the cut side into a round shape. Dust the doughs with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Then, use a rolling pin to roll out each piece into a 9-inch round(ish) shape. It’s ok if the dough springs back a little, once you get some toppings on it, you can continue to stretch out the edges.

Building the Calzones

Leaving a one-inch border, cover one side of the dough with an even layer of fresh grated mozzarella. Top the cheese with pepperoni; I have thick cut, coin-size pepperoni. Then, top the pepperoni with more cheese. Now for the chunky, meaty sauce: spread a ladle-full of sauce over the top of the cheese.

sauce on calzone dough

Top the sauce with more cheese. And then, brush the topping edge with water – this will help seal the calzone.

toppings on calzone dough

Now, fold the empty side of the dough over the toppings-side and press the dough edges together tightly. Brush the seam-edge with more water then fold the seam back over itself and crimp the half-moon edge.

Transfer the calzone to the oiled sheet tray. With a paring knife, make two, one-inch cuts in the top of the calzone to act as steam vents. Repeat this building process with the second calzone.

unbaked Pepperoni Calzones

Brush both calzones with olive oil and bake on the center-top rack for 20 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.

Pepperoni Calzones

Pepperoni Calzones

Once they come out, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before cutting. Each Pepperoni Calzone slices nicely into three wedges, or slice it right in half. Gooey cheese will flow out when you cut it to reveal the molten insides and crunchy, chewy, puffy crust. The thick cut pepperoni is ideal, so it stands up with the robust sauce, but honestly, I could have left out the ‘roni and just had sauce and cheese and these would still be exceptional. It’s all about that chunky, tomato and meat sauce.

Movie Night: Collateral

We have our calzones, hot and ready, so let’s get to the movie! As I mentioned at the top, this movie came out in 2004. I wouldn’t have thought to watch this, but I am glad Alex chose it for movie night; it is a great film. I am not going to go into details on the plot or trajectory of this film; to do so would be to give away the most tense parts of this thriller. Also, I included the trailer here, but I never saw the trailer before seeing the movie and I am glad, because I had no idea what was coming, and that made the movie that much more enjoyable. So, if you like Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, and exciting thrillers, don’t watch the trailer, just go watch the movie!

Thanks everyone for joining me here today for Pizza and a Movie! It was fun to mix things up a bit with the Pepperoni Calzones, but if you’re looking for a pizza recipe, definitely check out past posts on Pizza and a Movie. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest too!

Pepperoni Calzones

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Dinner, Main Course American/Italian
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 55 minutes Cooking Time: 20 Minutes Total Time: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes

Thick, rich tomato and meat sauce with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, enveloped in pizza dough to make a handy pizza pocket. It's a Calzone!


  • Meat Sauce
  • 4 Italian Sausages, casings removed
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine
  • 1 28-oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • 5-10 Garlic Cloves, frozen
  • 5-7 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
  • 2-4 Fresh Tomatoes, cut into large pieces
  • Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pepperoni Calzones
  • 1 1-lb. Pizza Dough Ball, at room temperature
  • 2 cups Grated Mozzarella
  • Thick Cut Pepperoni
  • Olive Oil



Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Position the oven rack to the center-top position.


Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the surface of a rimmed sheet tray. Set aside until we are ready to bake the calzones.

Meat Sauce


In a Dutch oven or large pot, over medium heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up into large chunks as it cooks.


Once browned, add the onion slices. Sauté until softened slightly, then deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.


Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.


Add whole cloves of garlic along with black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt.


Bundle the fresh herb sprigs and tie with kitchen twine and add the bundle to the pot.


Add the fresh tomatoes. Stir and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit, then turn off the heat.


Add the splash of balsamic vinegar, stir and taste for seasoning. Add more Kosher salt and pepper if desired.

Pepperoni Calzones


On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper to cut the dough ball in half and reshape each piece into a circle.


Use a rolling pin to roll doughs out to 9-inch rounds.


On one side of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border, spread a layer of mozzarella.


Add several pieces of pepperoni and top with more cheese.


Spread a ladle-full of the meat sauce on top and add another layer of cheese.


Brush water on the 1-inch border on the toppings-side of the dough.


Lift and fold the empty side of the dough over the filling and press the ends together.


Brush a little more water on the seam edge and fold the seam over itself and crimp the half-moon edge.


Place the calzone on the oiled sheet tray and use a paring knife to make two, one-inch cuts in the top of the calzone.


Repeat process with the other calzone.


Brush both calzones with olive oil and bake on the center-top rack for 20 minutes, until the crust is browned.

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  • Mari
    August 13, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Oh this is a fun recipe. It brings back old memories of the first time I ever had a calzone. My husband and I had just moved to Syracuse fr his job. The kids were very young and August was warm, pleasant and beautiful. Bob heard about Ferragosto, and we decided to go. Several of the streets were blocked off, and there were little booths everywhere. Several men were carrying a statue of Mary down the street, and the parish priest was making a speech about Italians in America. He spoke in Italian, but I knew enough French to figure out what he was saying, and it was mostly about what the Italians had done in America. Lots and lots of statistics and numbers. One of the booths we stopped at was selling what the guys called Galzone. We heard g for c all over Syracuse in time. Think Rigotta cheese. I don’t know if that’s an Italian thing or a Syracuse Italian thing, but I thought it was charming. We got two Calzones for about five dollars I think and they were so huge that my kids and I only barely finished a half. They were delicious but very filling. My husband who always looked like he was one meal away from starvation ate the other half and ordered two sausage grinders. They were filled with sausages, peppers and onions, and yes he did eat both of them. We replicated the Calzones and the sandwiches many times over the years, but they never tasted so good as they did that night in Syracuse. Today’s pizza question is what do you serve for vampire movies? If they aren’t one of the old Hammer movies, it doesn’t count! I suppose anything with garlic works, but what else? Then there is the Die Hard franchise. I love horror movies and I will never say no to action adventure. We watched all the John Wick movies and we never could keep up with the body count. I always quit after 20! Maggie Q has a similar one coming out, called Protoge. It also has Samuel Jackson and Michael Keaton. I think we all know who the bad guy is. Happy weekend everybody! Eat a Calzone. It’s a great reward for making it through the week.

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 13, 2021 at 12:05 pm

      Hi Mari, What a wonderful story about Ferragosto! I think sometimes when we have a strong food memory, no replication will be exactly the same because the moment, or event, surrounding the food itself is not the same. It’s funny how a moment can affect the flavors and our memory of the taste of something. Vampire movies, definitely call for a garlicky pizza, I am thinking white sauce with tons of roasted garlic and olive oil. Or the You Say Potato Pizza (from Escape from NY Pizza, but you can find a recipe for it on the blog). We love the John Wick movies. Have you seen Nobody? I recommended it a while back, it takes place in the John Wick Universe. I have seen previews for Protege, I am sure we will give it a watch. Thanks so much for sharing your calzone story – I love it! And as always I love our Pizza and a Movie discussions! Have a wonderful weekend! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    August 13, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Great idea instead of pizza make a pizza sandwich. We are having a mixed sausage pizza some Italian sausage and bison sausage with chorizo and bits of pineapple maybe I’ll turn it into a calzone … I’ll keep you posted ❤️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 13, 2021 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Mom, Yeah, try it as a calzone! Sounds like a great combo with the bison sausage, let me know how it goes. xo Kelly

      • Terry
        August 13, 2021 at 7:50 pm

        I changed my mind we are doing a calzone I keep you posted can’t wait to try it❤️Mom

  • Mari
    August 13, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    We did see Nobody and I would totally watch it again. I think that totally was by the same people that gave us John Wick and Protoge. Thanks for the vampire pizza idea. It sounds like something I would sink my fangs into! I must admit that I take great glee in not being able to stump you, but I’ll keep trying, and cheerfully losing. I’ll have to see what I can come up with next week. It’s only fair to warn you that the song “Jenny From The Block” is going around my brain. It must be the recent storm of pictures and stories in the magazines. Bennifer 2.0 is very annoying. I’m thinking of changing the words to Djalali On The Block. So far all I have is “something good is happening in the kitchen, Kelly’s cooking is always bitchin’”. Everyone can feel free to add to the lyrics. After we win a Grammy we can have Calzones.

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 13, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      Nobody was really good and yes, the same people behind John Wick were responsible for it too. I could just see the music video for “Djalali on The Block” LOL!

  • Sharon
    August 15, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Kelly – I enjoy and have made so many of your delicious recipes! My husband always gives them two thumbs up! Keep them coming! I just have one request: would you please try to include where your movie recommendations can be streamed? Sometimes we have a heck of time finding them and we don’t always have the service that one might be available on. We spend a bunch o time searching and then realize we don’t have that service! So please just mention and we would SO appreciate! Have a great time on Tybee Island! Thanks again for all your recipes and tutorials!

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 15, 2021 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Sharon, Sure – of course I can include the streaming options for the movies. I will do so going forward, but just so you know for the others, We typically watch movies rented or available from Apple TV (iTunes). Sometimes HBO or Hulu too. I am so happy you and your husband enjoy the recipes, that makes my day! Thanks so much, xo Kelly