I took a trip out to East Greenbush (699 Columbia Turnpike) this weekend to check out The Crisp Cannoli. There have been a number of reasons I wanted to stop in, and since I had something pretty major to celebrate, it felt like the perfect opportunity.
And I parked next to this:
If we’re going to be making Godfather references, I’d like to talk about one before we talk about the pastries at The Crisp Cannoli.
Try to un-repress the memories of The Godfather: Part III for a second. Toward the end of the film, Don Altobello is handed a box of cannoli by Connie. We find that the cannoli are poisoned and lead to his demise, but, just before he passes, he gets to enjoy the unparalleled crunch of a cannoli.
When I was in college about 16 years ago, I had a craving for a cannoli, and being that Bella Napoli was a couple of miles down the road from school (Siena), I stopped in. Growing up and having been brought up on Italian pastries from Bensonhurst, tasting the soggy, miserable, pre-filled cannoli at Bella Napoli was depressing. It was equally depressing to walk into the famed Villa Italia Pasticceria and find pre-filled cannoli. In Brooklyn, you almost never find pre-filled cannoli, and, when you do, you know they’re moving so quickly they can’t even throw them into the mouths of the gavoons on 18th avenue fast enough. We were even making fresh cannoli cream and filling the cannoli we sold in my dad’s shop to order.
So my questions is this, Capital Region bakeries: going back to Don Altobello, if a crispy, crunchy cannoli is good enough for someone who is about to be poisoned, why can’t a paying customer enjoy that same crunch?
This leads me to my favorite part of The Crisp Cannoli: the name.
The cannoli there totally live up to the name, and this makes me very happy. It also makes me happy that they are a little creative with their cannoli cream filling.
My first order of business with this place was to taste a cannoli, and for that, I had to enjoy one in the shop. I opted for their original flavor. I wanted to try the Sicilian flavor, which the people behind the counter told me “had more ricotta flavor and cinnamon oil”, but they didn’t have it.
After the first bite of cream, I had the pleasure of crunching into a fresh cannoli shell for the first time since moving to the region almost 17 years ago.
The cream was very good. It was packed with chocolate chips and was just sweet enough. Cassie raved about her “cookie dough cannoli” which she said actually had the taste and texture of cookie dough.
They had a bunch of other stuff I wanted to try, but I had to rein it in a little. I took some Crodos (their answer to the “Cronut”) and a sfogliatelle to go.
The sfogliatelle (my favorite pastry) was perfect, and they make it there, which is not easy.
The Crodo on the left was a vanilla custard crodo.
The other was their original crodo.
Both were very good. The main difference between the two were that one was filled with a very flavorful vanilla custard and the other was glazed. It’s a lot like a doughnut with some of the airiness of a croissant. I wouldn’t say they had quite the delicate texture of a croissant, but you can see that there are layers and a bit more texture beyond a standard doughnut. They had a fair bit of density and reminded me of a special doughnut my family makes around Christmas (I know the name in Italian, but have no idea how to spell it).
In all honesty, the crodo are very good, and $4 a piece is a fair price, but the cannoli are the true stars here.