A Cannolo to Die For

August 30, 2010

I have met the enemy, and he is the cannolo. Not just any old cannolo, but the heart-stopping, moan-inducing ones at Trattoria Al Molo in Donnalucata, on the southern shores of Sicily. I’d like to die eating one of their cannoli. Does this make sense?

What words can describe it?  When you sink your teeth through the crispy-light crust, an orange-flower-infused ricotta comes bursting forth, perfuming your entire mouth. Your eyelids grow heavy and you sway like the sea. Even days later, I’m crazy mad with the memory.

This cannolo is slim and delicate, unlike the pipe-bomb cannoli you find in Brooklyn, or Palermo. And by the way, do you know how the cannolo got its name? The dough used to be molded around canna, cane (reeds) such as these.

Sicilian Cannoli with Canna (Cane), copyright Jann Huizenga

Sicilian cannoli once protected against evil spirits and symbolized fertility. Now they have their own Facebook page. Hal Licino claims that Sicily’s best cannoli are found on the western end of the island, calling EuroBar in tiny Dattilo near Trapani the “Ultimate Altar of Cannolidom.” Hal, have you never been to Donnalucata?


PS At Al Molo (an unchic place, 0932-937710) sample the razza alla stemperata (sweet and sour stingray).  You know what to order for dessert.

Chef at Al Molo in Donnalucata, copyright Jann Huizenga

Chef at Al Molo

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14 comments to A Cannolo to Die For

  • That is the most delicious looking cannoli, it’s put me in cake mood at 3 in the morning.

  • I have never tried cannoli from Brooklyn, nor from Italy. However there is a great pastry shop in the Bronx, which is to die for. I’ve had lots of cannoli here in New Jersey, but nothing comes even close to the one in the Bronx. My family has been going to the shop since my grandparents had their wedding cake made there. It is run by a Sicilian woman who has lived in the States for 40 years, but still has a heavy accent. My boyfriend tried her pastries, and he said the cannoli were better than any kind he’s had in Italy. He said he usually doesn’t like how the ricotta tastes.

    • Jann

      I wonder if the place in the Bronx is on Arthur Avenue?? Often the cannoli in the US have some kind of weird cream filling rather than fresh ricotta. In this part of Sicily we use cow’s-milk ricotta because there are so many cows whereas in the other parts of Sicily it’s sheep-milk ricotta. Maybe your boyfriend prefers cow ricotta?

  • John Schinina

    Ciao, Jann
    Starting to hate you, I’m becoming overwhelmed
    with jealousy. Just kidding about the hate you
    but not the the jealousy. Enjoy those lovely

    • Jann

      Ha ha John–well, remember that I tend to talk about the good things here in my blog, and not so much about the frustrations of living in Sicily. Today for instance my camera broke and I scoured the island for a camera repair shop, and there isn’t one! Send it to Rome, everyone said… arrrrgh. I will have to comfort myself with cannoli.

  • Dennis Berry

    My best cannoli were eaten at La festa dei cannoli di Piana degli Albanesi in 1988. Thinking of them makes my mouth water.

    • Jann

      Dennis, those must have been some cannoli to have stayed so fresh in your memory for 20+ years!!! A whole festa with nothing but cannoli would really be the death of me, but since that’s the way I want to go…. hmmm.

  • I just ate dinner but after reading this I am hungry for your cannoli. Thank you for the beautiful photos too.

  • Cathy

    Oh Jann, you always make me so jealous lol… my facebook status from Aug 26th(Honest!!):

    “is getting quite addicted to her little pesto pizzas!! Tonight’s menu…homemade pesto, fresh tomato, prosciutto, parmesan cheese on a greek pita….heaven….. I’m thinking I could die fat & happy in Italy…..”

    The Italian Food website on About.com got me hooked on cantaloupe balls wrapped in prosciutto…been on the hunt for good cantaloupe all summer…we just don’t have the selection in my part of the globe but I try….

    I am so sad I did not get the opportunity to try a cannoli while in Italy last year…. I must lose like 30lbs so I can go back and REALLY appreciate the food on my next trip… Our trip just did not allow the time to really explore & experience Italian food..you must remember we were travelling with 63 teenagers!!

    Take care,

    • Jann

      Cathy, we’re really on the same wavelength!!! (And pesto pizzas sound like just the thing to have as a main course, with cannoli as a dessert.) Yes, I think you’d have a quite a different experience of Italy without those 63 teenagers tagging along!!!

  • Josephine

    Al Molo is the best. You can’t get a bad meal there and their dishes are all super delicious. It doesn’t surprise me that the cannoli are to die for. Lucky you Jann that you can enjoy this marvelous place.

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