Okay, so we’ve already established that I like to eat. But unlike a lot of Americans—I’m really not that big on sweets. Give me pasta or a good crusty bread and I’m a happy camper, probably going for seconds and thirds. Bake me a cake, and while I’ll love it, I’ll probably not sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a second piece. And most importantly, and weirdly, I’ll admit, I’m not that big of a chocolate fan. Which means that when I do go for dessert it tends to be something not quite as sweet and definitely no chocolate. Which brings me to cannoli. My idea of a perfect dessert. I absolutely love them. And since finding cannoli in Texas is sort of like finding a good chimichanga in Manhattan, I hadn’t really had all that much experience with them until I moved up here.
And in my opinion, nobody makes cannoli like the Fortunato Brothers. The first time I experienced their phenomenal cannoli was during the Feast of San Gennaro held every fall in Little Italy. The restaurants along Mulberry Street spill out onto the road, with tented tables offering everything Italian. And along with the restaurants are booths offering more amazing goodies. And this is where I ran into the small booth holding a table full of cannoli. Oh my gosh, pure heaven. But having only just arrived in Manhattan, I just assumed that all cannoli were this magnificent, and so I really didn’t pay that much attention to where I’d bought mine.
Later, a new craving having been created, I went to a local neighborhood place with cannoli, prepared to relive the heavenly experience I’d had on Mulberry Street. I bought the cannoli, and impatient for the creamy flakey goodness that is cannoli, ate it on the spot. And had a heart sinking moment when I realized, a) that all cannoli are not created equal and b) that I didn’t know the name of the place where I’d bought the fabulous cannoli. Only that I thought it started with an ‘F’. In short, I was screwed.
Then at a different street fair a year or so later, I saw them. The little booth, the table of cannoli, the name beginning with an ‘F’—Fortunato Brothers, from Brooklyn. I bought four cannoli and ate one on the spot. They were exactly as I remembered. So these days, it’s become a game with me, go to a street fair, and hope that they’ll be there. Yesterday at the 2nd Ave street fair, I hit gold. The world’s best cannoli—waiting for me.
For those of you who are into instant gratification, the Fortunato Brothers have a café in Williamsburg, where they’ve been perfecting their cannoli for over 35 years. And besides selling cannoli, they have homemade gelato and all kinds of cakes and pastries. One of these days I’ll have to give it a try, but in the meantime, I’ll be checking out the next street fair, and keeping my fingers crossed that Fortunato cannoli will be there.
Fortunato Brothers Café and Pasticceria- 289 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.387.2281