The Cannoli Truck from Meriano's Bake Shoppe
Cuisine: Italian Bakery, Food Truck
Price: $3 per Cannoli
The Highlights: Traditional, Oreo, seasonal flavors
The first time I heard the phrase "Cannoli Truck" I was convinced it was a New Haven urban legend. The city has trucks and carts filled with almost any cuisine you can imagine, but a truck filled with Italian pastries? This seemed too good to be true. Lucky for New Haven, the truck exists, and its pink and leopard-trimmed reality is far superior to any Italian pastry-filled mirage you can conjure.
I discovered the truck early this summer, first as a hot tip from a New Haven friend excited to have a new truck to add to the city’s burgeoning food truck and cart scene. And then as luck would have it, the truck frequently parks in the neighborhood near my New Haven office, so I’m lucky to “stumble” into it, in all its 7 cannoli-flavor glory.
My first Cannoli Truck experience was my baseline–a traditional cannoli of velvety sweetened ricotta studded with chocolate chips and encased inside a crispy and flaky pastry shell. On a subsequent visit, I opted for Andrea’s recommendation of one of the truck’s best-sellers, Oreo, which is filled with a cookies and cream flavored ricotta and encased in a chocolate-dipped shell. It is an incredible combination and variety of textures–the dense flakiness of a perfect Italian pastry shell covered in smooth chocolate, a thickly sweetened filling, and shards of actual Oreos. I’m afraid there is no turning back from here.
The flavors most frequently offered include: traditional, chocolate dipped, Oreo, Peanut Butter, and Maple Bacon as well as seasonal favorites such as Pumpkin Spice, Apple Pie and a few in regular rotation such as Mounds Bar, HeathBar and German Chocolate. I’ll be doing my due diligence and working my way through this list, you can count on that.
The cannolis are hands-down, some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But much of the appeal of this truck lay beyond its Italian cannolis (and pignoli cookies and other Italian treats it offers). It’s also the owners and a very good cause.
On my first visit, I got a chance to get on the truck (momentarily fulfilling my dream of owning my own food truck) and chatted with Andrea, the truck’s affable co-owner, whose family owns Meriano Bake Shoppe in Guilford. The truck is an outgrowth of that family-owned shop that was opened in 1988, as well as a way to give back to the community–part of their proceeds benefit Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital where both of Andrea’s parents were treated. “Our father's doctor, Dr. Daniel Boffa was so incredible to my dad and us as a family, we felt we needed to give back. Cancer affects all of us,” said Andrea Meriano. “After losing both our parents to the disease, we wanted to try and make a difference. I'm never going to find a cure for cancer. But I make a great cannoli. And if I can sell you the best cannoli and help the people who might find that cure, it would've all been worth it.”
"The truck has been a dream we finally started in May of this year.” said Meriano. “The motto 'leave the gun, take the cannoli' is from the Godfather film. We feel it's a nod to leaving the violence and enjoying the sweet things in life.” Fitting words, a terrific cause, not to mention some very memorable cannolis.
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