When the Cavallaro family immigrated to Australia in the late 1940s, the ricotta that fills the family’s cannoli was impossible to source. “We filled them with the same patisserie cream we use to make our Continental cakes,” says third-generation pastry chef, Tony Cavallaro. Times change, and today the cannoli filled with ricotta – a mixture of two different ricotta cheeses, in fact, blended in-house for just the right balance – are the Sicilian pasticceria’s most popular pastry. The dough is wrapped around wooden sticks, plunged into the deep fryer and emerges brittle and bubbly. Each cannolo is piped to order with either the ricotta mix, chocolate custard or vanilla custard. The piping to order is one of the keys to Cavallaro’s decades of popularity. “We’re old school,” says Cavallaro. “We don’t fill 400 cannoli in the morning and have them sitting on the bench. Therein lies the secret: you don’t buy cannoli to eat the next day.” Cavallaro’s parents opened T. Cavallaro & Sons in 1956 in time for the Olympic Games, during which Tommaso Cavallaro, Tony’s father, would catch the train into the city to sell cannoli outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Sixty-five years on, Tony continues to make cannoli with his family, following his grandfather’s 19th-century recipe. “Our cannoli have stood the test of time for 65 years, and even longer before that in Italy,” says Cavallaro.
By Sofia Levin