Cannoli battle in East Village delights

It was Friday night in New York City. We had been out late the night before fighting the crowds on Broadway to see the powerhouse performance of Idina Menzel in the musical If/Then. We were ready for a slower evening enjoying the neighborhood.

We picked a good neighborhood. The East Village is a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood with a mix of beautiful tree-streets and remnants of the old Alphabet neighborhoods that were once a last bastion of affordability in Manhattan. The park had a comfortable mix of transients, revelers, seniors, kids and those just passing through like us.

We ate hot dogs from the acclaimed Crifs in the park.

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(Can’t really miss the sign, now can you?)

Then we went hunting for Italian pastries. In my mind, a true city can’t claim elite food status unless it has its own signature Italian pastries (or at the very least, an Italian market complete with homemade pasta like San Francisco’s Lucca’s).  After wandering around a bit we ran first into De Robertis Pasticerria. The family-owned business had cases of delicacies filled and on display. The family sat out front, talking and watching the neighborhood. We bought one cannoli and let our daughter be the taste tester.

She raved about it. We went around the corner to the brighter, glitzier and older business (they claim to be the oldest bakery in America) called Veniero Pastry.

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From the first impression, we assumed this would be the winner, so we bought three cannolis. They didn’t disappoint, the classic italian flavors coming through. But our daughter gave her review.

“It’s good but the other was better,” she said simply.

Our gold standard for cannoli’s is Mike’s from the North End neighborhood in Boston. Veniero’s was good, but not Mike’s. Our daughter insisted De Robertis was better. We went back around the corner and returned.

“She said you guys won the taste test,” I told the owner.

He was clearly pleased, even tossing in an extra cannoli on the house.

“Mangia,” he said.

“Prego!” I said.

We went out on the busy street and dug in. The delicate back notes of the classic flavors came through better than Vaniero. It was decadent. My sugar fix pumped me up. The Bride raved about the cannoli. Both were great. But De Robertis was better.

“Still not quite Mike’s,” the Bride said.

True, but second to Mike’s is Effin Artist worthy indeed.

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