Southern Brooklyn

Pizza Cardo: Spinach And Mushroom Calzone – The Bite


THE BITE: I can’t remember the last time I had a calzone. I’m struggling to remember the last time I had one and the only memory that comes back is a date with Dorothy in my senior year in high school. I remember making some fairly crude comments about the calzone. But, hey, they worked. Let’s just say that it was a memorable date.

Back to today. Calzones are and Italian version of stuffed bread. They are made from pizza dough, traditionally stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, baked and served with marinara sauce on the side. Many pizza places in the area will add pepperoni or sausages as well. It’s really up to the chef as there are no fixed rules. At Pizza Cardo, 1730 Jerome Avenue, they offer up five different calzones from four cheese to sauteed vegetables. I chose a spinach and mushroom calzone, $8, for my dining experience.

Pizza Cardo’s calzone is stuffed with mushrooms and spinach and only a small layer of mozzarella cheese. The dominant flavor of this calzone was the mushrooms, which sadly were canned. The spinach, with its taste of iron, helped to counterbalance the mushrooms while the cheese added some much needed creaminess to the calzone. The stuffing was good, but somehow just missed the mark.

I have to admit. I was a little skeptical ordering a calzone from a kosher establishment. Since a calzone is usually stuffed with a ridiculous amount of stomach busting, artery clogging cheese, would kosher cheese be up to the challenge? I’ve found that kosher cheese, um, well, it sucks. There’s something missing in the production of kosher cheese that causes it to lack the flavors and depth of its non-kosher rivals. Surprisingly, I could not tell the difference between the mozzarella in this calzone and any I’ve had in a non-kosher establishment.

While the stuffing was not quite stellar, the pizza dough itself is outstanding. Light, chewy and just plain good; I could find myself asking them to just bake a loaf of their plain dough for me.

The other stand out was the marinara dipping sauce. Sweet and thin, this sauce’s tomato flavors shine while parsley and a touch of garlic add just the right amount of depth.

Pizza Cardo, 1730 Jerome Avenue, (718) 676-0140.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

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  1. You can’t tell the difference because most cheeses in the US are made with vegetable rennet instead of animal, which makes most cheeses kosher anyway. The good cheeses, the ones you find in artisinal shops like a creamy brie that has an odor, use animal rennet and are more expensive. Utility pizza places use low moisture and low fat mozzarella, which uses vinegar to coagulate the curds. They’re kosher to begin with so you wouldn’t taste a difference. What makes a pizzeria kosher is that they don’t serve meat so their utensils and cookware is used only for dairy and not mixed use.

    That said, the best calzones were at Nino’s on Ave U and E 14th which unfortunately isn’t around anymore. Say what you will about anything else there, but he had some spectacular tasting calzones.

  2. Yeah, kosher cheese is different.  Something to do with rennet or lack of same in the cheese.  Gotta be careful of the rennett, as alot of that stuff comes from the stomachs or intestines of pigs.  My best friend growing up was orthodox jewish, and I remember eating kosher pizza.  It wasn’t so bad, but it certainly was not as good as from the italian pizzaria.

  3. Good cheese isn’t made with vegetable rennett.  Vegetarian cheese is made with that stuff.  My father worked for Kraft foods many, many years ago.  One of his jobs involved working with the departments that made cheese and Redi Whip.  Also, if you speak to cheese experts, they will tell you that most rennet is porcine. 

  4. I haven’t had a calzone from Connies in ages.  Since Sal sold the place, nothing seems to be as good.  I have had several of what used to be my favorites – white pie, regular pie, chicken parm, garlic knots – I was disappointed with everything.  I now buy my pizza and garlic knots at Roccos on 5th in Bay Ridge.  Knapp Street pizza also has really good garlic knots.  As for chicken parm, I make it myself with my own sauce and mozzerella cheese from Rocco’s.

  5. Off the topic of calzones, you should try the “beef cubes over rice” at Pho Hoai Vietnamese restaurant on Avenue U.  Good stuff.

  6. I didn’t know where to post this but I think you mentioned liking Popeyes. Soon to be open on Nostrand between Neck Road and V.


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