"You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars." Charles Kuralt

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Original Tarantini Panzarotti

The Original Tarantini Panzarotti. For those in the know, the very mention of this South Jersey regional favorite conjures up images of deep fried Italian goodness. Either that, or the deep-rooted fear of an impending coronary from eating way too many of these artery clogging cholesterol bombs. Most likely both.
The Panzarotti is essentially a pizza pocket consisting of a doughy shell around a filling of cheese and sauce that is then deep-fried to a golden brown. They are made to open when raw, so you have the option of adding your favorite toppings. Just pinch the top shut and it’s into the fryer.
When done just right the crust should have a crunch when you bite into it but should not be too hard. The inside of the shell remains predominantly chewy and sweet. Within the shell is a cheese and sauce mixture that is spiced to perfection. Watch out though, the Panzarotti is notoriously oily. I can’t begin to speculate as to how many shirts I’ve ruined due to biting into a hot, fresh Panzarotti only to have it squirt me with oil as if it were ink from an escaping squid.
The Panzarotti should not be confused with its cousin the “pizza turnover”, which is often also known as an “inside out” or a “pizza twist”. Certain pizza shops will call this a Panzarotti. Don’t be fooled. A dead giveaway is if the person taking your order asks you if you want it baked or deep-fried. A real Panzarotti is never baked. If you continue your order and opt for deep-fried, what you are getting is a deep-fried “pizza turnover”. The cheese is often half melted and the shell is usually limp and greasy. So if you go with the pizza turnover, bake it. Better yet, find a place that sells The Original Tarantini Panzarotti.
Although the original recipe is far older, the commercial Panzarotti came into being over forty years ago when Leopold and Pauline Tarantini began making them at home and selling them door to door in order to help support their family. For the full story and all sorts of other Panzarotti information including some great pics of the production process, check out the official Tarantini Panzarotti site at panzarotti.net.
A while back our local evening news did a piece on the Original Tarantini Panzarotti.

Don Polec's World - Courtesy of WPVI-6

***UPDATE*** 4/7/09

This is for all for you Panzarotti lovers out there who are interested in getting them shipped. Currently the news is not so good, but according to the official Panzarotti people, they are working on it. Here’s the back and forth I had with them the last time I asked about shipping.

They posted this to Eating with George:

From the General Manager, Please be advised that Angel Distributors is no longer associated with Tarantini Panzarotti and does not deal with our product any longer. To the anonymous posting of July 16,2008, we regret that you have had a bad experience with our product as one of the problems we have incurred is the mishandling of our product. Might we suggest you try Francos Place in Haddonfield, NJ as they are family owned or go to the website for more info.

I wrote this back to them:

> Leo & Dean:
> Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog post. I wish you the best of
> luck in your future without Angel Distributors. I have loved your product
> for the last twenty years, but I do feel that it suffered under their
> supervision. It just wasn't the same for a while. Here's to restoring
> faith in the brand! You've got my continued support. By the way I hope
> that you continue to promote the idea of shipping your product to private
> individuals from around the country. That was the coolest thing that Angel
> used to do. Judging from the continued traffic that my Panzarotti story
> continues to get, your product enjoys a nationwide and even an
> international following. It should be available to those beyond our
> region. The Panzarotti is my #2 most visited review. It comes in slightly
> behind Dodge's Chicken.
> George

Here is the reply that I got back:

George, we are currently working with a food broker to take panzarotti nationwide.
These things take time but by next year at this time we expect tremendous results.
As for shipping, the company that used to do this at a decent price is not shipping
in the US anymore, just internationally. That leaves us with UPS and the likes that
makes it economically unfeasible for our customers. We tried to open a store in
Vegas but the economic climate stopped that like a head on accident. And as for the
e-mail you received I refer you to your original blog of "they are not the same" It
is highly unfortunate that we really can't control how people prepare our product or
mistreat it. When we go national, how can we control it? There are so many ( and
it's sad ) terrible cooks and terrible restaurants out there but I can only say go
to the web site and search for Francos Place. Folks can contact us via
www.panzarotti.net Thanks, George


Anonymous said...

The Panzarotti use to be my favorite food, I have enjoyed them for over twenty years... and in the last year, I do not know what has happened to them, but they are actually disgusting... where did the quality and taste go?? I miss the good old tasting ones... the Tarantini's need to pay attention to what they have done to a great food, they are destroying it.

panzman2 said...

From the General Manager, Please be advised that Angel Distributors is no longer associated with Tarantini Panzarotti and does not deal with our product any longer. To the anonymous posting of July 16,2008, we regret that you have had a bad experience with our product as one of the problems we have incurred is the mishandling of our product. Might we suggest you try Francos Place in Haddonfield, NJ as they are family owned or go to the website for more info.

colsheehan said...

I think that by far a Tarantini Panzarotti is probably the best tasting food I have ever eaten. When I was pregnant I would order it from the local pizza place at least 2-3 times a week. That was most likely the cause of my 40 lb weight gain but worth every delicious bite!!! My son is now 4years old and I am still eating about 2 panzarotti's a week. I can't help it, once I get the craving I need to eat one!!! Ron's Lindenwold Pizza and Pine Hill Pizza have the best around. Please don't ever stop making them. They're great!!!

Junneebug@yahoo.com said...

I hope someone can HELP!!I love, love and love the Tarantini panzarotti. I have been eating them all my life and took it for granted I guess !! As I have moved away to Virginia Beach and was ordering my so called fix from Angel distributors..Now they do not carry them anymore...Does anyone know Where I can now get these beautiful panzarotti's delivered to my home!!... I NEED my fix!!! ha ha.... Junneebug@yahoo.com

severe said...

I'm a Jersey native in CA and would also like to find a way to get the original panzarotti delivered.

Funny enough, I was in an Ikea a few weeks ago and found they had what they called a "pizza pocket". It looked and tasted much like a panzarotti. I returned a week or so later for another and while being rung up at the counter, the word "panzarotti" flashed at the register.

Though they're only $2 each, this could spell trouble for the midsection.

Anonymous said...

I'm a store owner that sells Tarantini Panzarotti. I would get my deliveries from Angel Distributors, they were the best! After reading peoples comments on your site the Tarantini's are saying Angel Distributors was the problem. The Tarantini's have always manufactured the product. So who's the problem? I miss Angel Distributors!

panzman2 said...

Hello to all our customers from Tarantini Panzarotti, The distribution efforts to bring Panzarotti across the US is ongoing with a food broker. In the meantime you can find us on the web at www.panzarotti.net and we are shipping across the USA. E-mail us or call the phone number listed on the website or when in the area visit one of our company stores listed at the web site. Thanks, Leo Tarantini

panzman2 said...

Greetings to all our customers nationwide from Tarantini Panzarotti. We would like to update you on the distribution of our product which is still going slowly. Our food broker is closing a deal with a nationwide food distributor but these things take a lot of time. We are very anxious to get this rolling for all our customers. In the meantime please visit our website at www.panzarotti.net where you can find all the contact info on us and we do ship across the country, small quantities. Thanks Leo Tarantini

Anonymous said...

i grew up eating the Tarantini Panzarotti and i still never found a food so unique

mousyeyes said...

I keep checking back to see if you have been able to find a way to ship them across the country but I see that you obviously have not found a way yet. We would sure love to see them here in Washington NC they are great and I miss them now that I have moved awaay from NJ

Steve Milloro said...

Deepfry or Bake whats better?

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love and dearly miss the taste and smell of these! Nothing compares here in NC. I grew up in Pennsauken and ate plenty from Vincents in Merchantville and Tarantinis on the Pike! Yum!

Anonymous said...

what ever happen to distribution in Florida? we have been waiting forever

Unknown said...

Agreed! Im hungry!