98 Hopkins Street
Footscray VIC 3011
+61 3 9687 4638
My good mate, Martin, who lives in the foodie wasteland known as Broadbeach Waters was lamenting the limited availability of REAL cannoli up on the Gold Coast. Real cannoli, he said, had a crispy shell and was filled with soft ricotta, not custard. To be honest, I wasn’t a cannoli person to begin with but all that talk of the famous Sicilian pastry dessert got me keen to find the best cannoli in Melbourne. I did a bit of research and according to Melbourne foodie royalty tummyrumbles, T.Cavallaro & Sons Pasticceria in Footscray was the way to go.
Although Adam and I walk past this humble shop frequently, we’ve never been inside because we had always assumed that it was just a store that sold coffee-making equipment. Given that the windows were always filled with little stove tops and coffee mugs, I’d say it was a valid assumption. Okay fine, so you can see chocolate eclairs and profiteroles in that photo but puh-lease, we’re both pretty tall for Asians so as if we would be bothered looking down to spot the desserts.
The store itself looks like it has not changed since it opened back in 1956. An old-school espresso machine still churns out decent-looking coffees and the recipes used to make the cakes and pastries remain untouched for over 100 years. Every time I walk into the store, there is always one or two Italian female customers ummm-ing over what size they want their god-daughter’s christening cakes to be or whether to order three or four dozen pieces of freshly baked biscotti. Me? I walk straight to the back where the cannoli are and patiently wait for my turn.
As well as the original ricotta-filled cannoli, the more ubiquitous vanilla and chocolate cream ones are available (both are $3 each take-away, or $3.50 eat-in). As soon as I place my order for a couple (and in today’s case, half a dozen), the lady who is as cheery and matronly as La Befana goes out the back to fill my cannoli from scratch. The result is a beautifully crisp shell filled with the softest ricotta or custard centre, none of them being overly sweet. Dust with a bit of icing sugar and you have the most amazing morning coffee accompaniment. They were seriously the loveliest cannoli I’ve ever tried. Even the ‘try-hard’ custard ones were miles ahead of their competitors wilting away in suburban bakeries.
Obviously if you leave them in the car for 11 hours straight, your cannolo’s shell isn’t going to remain super-crispy. The difference between these cannoli and the ones served at any random bakery, however, is that these ones do not get soggy even after half a day in the car. Soft, yes, but not soggy. And what’s even more amazing is that they still retain a bit of crunch. Best cannoli in Melbourne? So far, YES.