Not all cannoli are created equal: from the disappointingly soggy to the delectably crispy and creamy, Italo-Canadian Rob Gentile sorts the best from the rest and declares a winner.
WINNER: Pastry Perfection!
NORTH POLE BAKERY, 1210 Danforth Avenue
“This one looks most authentic,” the enthusiastic chef says before even tasting any cannoli. When he takes a bite, he can’t help but smile. “Number one, hands down,” he says. “It’s fresh, you can taste the ricotta, the shell is properly cooked.”
A fresh take
TRE MARI BAKERY, 1311 St. Clair Avenue West
Tre Mari’s cream cannoli garners the runner-up title even though, as Gentile explains, it is not in the traditional Sicilian style, which he prefers. “The pastry cream is fresh, shell is fresh. It’s properly piped and crunchy and tasty.”
RIVIERA BAKERY, 576 College Street
Our judge studies this cannoli for a while, taking a few bites before saying anything. He likes the filling, which he speculates has citrus zest in it, but “can taste the fryer oil in the shell.” He’s disappointed, claiming it would have won otherwise.
SANREMO BAKERY, 374 Royal York Road
Although Gentile enjoyed Tre Mari’s cream cannoli, he’s less impressed with this similar-looking version from SanRemo. “Traditional cannoli should be made with ricotta. This one is pastry cream. And it’s lacking on the filling.”
MAD ITALIAN GELATO BAR, 1581 Bayview Avenue
“The shell is soft and it’s not really filled properly. You can tell it was filled ahead of time, and now the shell has taken the moisture from the cheese. See how it comes apart so easily?” the chef says, pulling the soggy pastry from the ricotta.
COMMISSO BROTHERS BAKERY, 8 Kincort Street
When the amicable chef takes a bite of a cannoli from Commisso Brothers, the shell immediately collapses. “When I push on it, it’s doughy,” he says, demonstrating. He puts it down and moves on, with high hopes for the next pastry.
NINO D’AVERSA BAKERY, 1 Toro Road
“This one looks familiar,” Gentile says with a boyish smile. But after going in for a bite, he is once again disappointed by a soft shell. He does, however, enjoy the filling in Nino D’Aversa’s cannoli, which includes morsels of chocolate.
On a roll
ST. PHILLIPS BAKERY, 5100 Rutherford Road
“This is good,” Gentile says, digging a fork into the inside of the roll for a taste of the ricotta cream. But like many others, this cannoli has a soft shell, indicating it was filled ahead of time rather than made to order.