Friday, May 20, 2011

The Little Cannoli Bakery

(UPDATE 8/31/13: The Little Cannoli Bakery is now on the main level (upstairs) in the Reed Opera House. You can see it from Center Street, not far from Macedonia and La Perla.)

The Little Cannoli Bakery is literally right next door to BelgiQue Belgian Waffles. Both establishments are located downstairs in the Reed Opera House in downtown Salem, Oregon.

Storefront as of AUGUST 2013

The Little Cannoli Bakery has won several awards in the Salem, Oregon, area. The last couple of years, they have been in the top three for Best Bakery or Best Dessert, a very impressive achievement.

I stopped by to try their signature item: the cannolo (cannoli is the plural) for $3.50.

The cashier at the counter mentioned that the most popular way people have ordered cannoli is with a combination of ground pistachios and chocolate chips, so I requested that as well. They only have one filling, the sweet, white, whipped mascarpone.

I love that their cannoli shells are filled to order. That's an absolute must with a cannoli
Whipped, sweet mascarpone cheese filling, chocolate chips, and pistachios.
I know you want this.
At the recommendations of the cashier, I ate the cannoli right away -- mere seconds after taking that above photo.

The cannolo was excellent, quite frankly the best one I've ever had. The cannoli shell (basically a tube-shaped fried pastry dough) was cool, brittle, and had the right amount of flavor for me. The chocolate on the ends of the shell was appealing to the eye and appetizing to the palette. This is why cannoli must be filled to order. If the filled cannoli sit out for lengthy periods of time, the shell loses its crisp, brittle nature, replaced by an unappetizing soft shell. The Little Cannoli Bakery did it properly, and I'm grateful for that.

The mascarpone cheese was also terrific. It was the right amount of sweetness for me, had a nice whipped, airy texture to contrast with the brittle, crunchy shell. Finally, the chocolate chips and pistachios brought new dimensions of flavor and texture to the cannolo.

Even though I had just eaten something just prior to my visit to The Little Cannoli Bakery, I was scraping for every last bit of mascarpone, pistachio, chocolate chip, and cannolo shell. Yeah, it was that awesome.

Of course, The Little Cannoli Bakery has more than cannoli. They sell all types of pastries (eclairs, Napoleons, croissants, cookies, Biscotti, etc.) and even do fresh baked breads as well. In fact, the special for May 20, 2011, was their take on a pizza, using a house-made baguette. It sounded very interesting, and I immediately wished I hadn't ate so much prior to my visit.

Here's the deal: Yes, I gave Voodoo Doughnuts a better rating, but there's a good reason why. While The Little Cannoli Bakery takes the traditional desserts and does them right, Voodoo Doughnuts blew me away with their originality and vast doughnut selection -- and Voodoo does an amazing job on top of all that. And if I'm willing to drive at least 50-55 minutes to get doughnuts and then stand in a massive line to get them (I'm much closer in proximity to The Little Cannoli Bakery -- and virtually no wait time), Voodoo has to get higher marks.

Nonetheless, The Little Cannoli Bakery proved to me why they have won or contended for Best Dessert and Best Bakery. Their signature item is top-notch and so delectable. 8/10

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