• The bolognese panzerotto was all inspired by Italian food business owner Ettore Donnaloia's mother. (Supplied )Source: Supplied
Ettore Donnaloia of Italian food business Il Panzerotto Taste of Puglia has put a fresh spin on the traditional panzerotti from Puglia in the country's south.
By
Rushani Epa

10 May 2021 - 3:19 PM  UPDATED 10 May 2021 - 3:19 PM

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Everyone's heard of processed North American-style pizza pockets, but what about its lesser known predecessor, the humble panzerotti?

The deep-fried snack hails from sunny Puglia, located on the southeastern heel of Italy's boot. It's otherwise known as a fried calzone or a savoury turnover.

Traditionally, these little parcels of thinly stretched dough are served steaming hot and filled with a winning combination of tomato and molten cheese.

Stuffed or topped?
Pizza fritta

Pizza fritta, or fried pizza, is exactly that: fried pieces of fresh pizza dough ready to top with your favourite flavours that's slightly chewy and crunchy.

However, there's a variation closer to home that's worth talking about. Travelling market stall Il Panzerotto Taste of Puglia in Melbourne is creating what it claims to be the world's first bolognese panzerotto, and it was all inspired by owner Ettore Donnaloia's mother.

Ettore Donnaloia (centre) serves his bolognese panzerotto at his travelling market stall in Melbourne.

The bolognese panzerotto unites Bologna and Puglia through the use of bolognese sauce, cheese and dough, and while it might seem sacrilegious to any Italian, Donnaloia is adamant that people try his creation before they diss it.

"Italians are very strict when it comes to food. When they first came to my market stall and would see bolognese panzerotti, it's like I went and killed one thousand years of history. I told them not to be scared and to try it and let me know. When they tried it, they would say 'I didn't expect that'. We're always scared of new things, but if we don't try we won't know. That being said there are some things you should keep sacred like not adding cream to your carbonara," he says.

"Italians are very strict when it comes to food. When they first came to my market stall and would see bolognese panzerotti, it's like I went and killed one thousand years of history."

According to Donnaloia, panzerotti were first created by an Italian housewife. "The housewives used to cook for the kids and would make homemade bread. It was a staple for families. When they would make homemade bread they would then cut off a piece of dough which they would fry and give to kids.

"Then, the kids started asking for something else inside, so they would put some cheese and tomato inside, fold, close and fry it. The kids loved it, and slowly every single family tried making panzerotti at home," he says.

The bolognese panzerotto unites Bologna and Puglia through the use of bolognese sauce, cheese and dough.

TRY THIS PANZEROTTI RECIPE
Panzerotti (fried dough pockets)

Panzerotti are filled thin bread pockets typical of Puglia, the most traditional filling being tomato and mozzarella. Small, deep-fried, addictive!

Donnaloia and his family migrated to Melbourne from an old village in Puglia called Pezze di Greco at a time that most Italians migrated from Sicily or Calabria. Australians are used to treats hailing from these regions, but Pugliese cuisine is a lesser-known treat.

"One day I found out about farmer's markets and saw people in this relaxed environment selling their own products, which inspired me. A few years later I went back to Italy for a holiday and one night my dad's cousin, who had started a panzerotti business, was cooking panzerotti at a party. When I saw that I had a lightbulb moment and thought, that's what was missing in Melbourne!'" he says.

Donnaloia and his mother would experiment with variations of flavours and sizes of panzerotti before they found a winning combination.

One panzerotti is usually around eight centimetres in length, but after Donnaloia began to sell his goods at farmer's markets, he realised that the snack-sized crescents weren't filling enough for his customers.

"The first six months the product didn't go well because people would eat one then still be hungry. So I changed the size of the panzerotti and made it bigger so that people would get full from eating one. At the beginning, I also only had three flavours: tomato and cheese, Nutella and a vegan one. We then decided to create more flavours to suit everyone including ham and cheese, and bolognese."

This bolognese panzerotto is practically begging to be eaten.

Donnaloia and his mother would experiment with variations of flavours and sizes of panzerotti, and due to last year's lockdowns, how to store and freeze panzerotti so his customers could fry or bake them at home.

Nowadays he can be spotted with his family slinging panzerotti rain, hail or shine at various farmer's markets around Melbourne. His panzerotti can also be purchased frozen via his online store.

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