Connoisseur Cannoli, at NYC's Caffe Palermo

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Caffe Palermo
148 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Web: Caffe Palermo
Phone: 212.431.4205
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"Palermo has come up with an utterly smooth, wonderfully rich and gently sweet white cream that's accented with little bits of chocolate... and it's fresh."

Given what we will likely publish in the future on our quest for Western New York's best cannoli, you may be wondering where Buffalo Chow's editors go when they're looking for the perfect version of this Sicilian dessert. Though the best local place will appear in a Buffalo-specific review, our favorite place outside of the area is definitely the increasingly famous Caffe Palermo in New York City.

There isn't a single recipe that defines a truly great cannoli; rather, it's the individual quality of three elements - the pastry shell, the ricotta cream filling, and the surprising "something extra" that make for a memorably excellent dessert. In Western New York, Pizza Plant used to make an outstanding cannoli cone with chunky, chocolate chip-loaded and specially flavored ricotta cheese loaded into an ice cream cone. But Caffe Palermo's version is closer to the traditional recipe, only with its own twists.

Let's start with the pastry shell. Palermo offers two different versions, one a traditional flour- and sugar-based tube ($3.50), and the other completely coated in glazed chocolate ($4). Powdered sugar dusts the outside of each cone, as well. Regardless of the one you try, you're likely to remember it as one of the best you've ever had thanks to the thick and crunchy texture and the flavor. There also seems to be "something extra" in the traditional tube - a little squirt of either espresso or chocolate at the bottom that waits to be discovered while you're biting through.

It's hard to be certain exactly what that flavor is, because it's a very brief sugary distraction from the filling. Palermo has come up with an utterly smooth, wonderfully rich and gently sweet white cream that's accented with little bits of chocolate, a contrast with the paste-like cheese fillings that you'll often find in display cases, and for that matter the chunky, loaded versions that used to be found at places such as Pizza Plant. Is this better than the best of the chunky fillings? It's equal, just different.

And it's fresh. Interviewed by ABC, the shop's owner says that the cannolis are filled 20 or 30 at a time every 10 minutes as not to become soggy by the time they're served, which along with the recipe was one of the two keys to their quality. While we can't speak to the actual time that ours spent filled before we picked them up on a weekend morning, before the crowds arrived, we saw some in a display case that had been there for at least that long; regardless, ours were perfectly fresh. We consider Caffe Palermo a must-visit for fans of cannoli - just be forewarned, you'll be spoiled on most other renditions after trying these.

Caffe Palermo on Urbanspoon

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