Hoboken New Jersey is a great city for good food. The Italian community has deep roots in this city, and of course, great Italian food is here for the taking!
But let’s talk about one of my favourite aspects of Italian food: Italian pastries to be exact.
Most people are familiar with the TV show Cake Boss. Carlo’s is run by Buddy Valastro. They’re famous for wedding cakes and specialty cakes. They’re also famous for their cannoli.
Which is what I was on the hunt for: a cannoli from the famous Carlo’s Bakery. But how to get there?
My friend Michael, who I went to visit in New Jersey, told me to meet him across the NJ City Hall for dinner one day. Michael gives great directions, so I didn’t have any trouble getting there. So getting off the bus at City Hall, imagine my surprise when I noticed Carlo’s Bakery right across the street! With a happy stride, I went over and opened the door…
… Only to be greeted by a tall (no, HUGE) gentleman with the charm of a biker bar bouncer. Our exchange was as follows:
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: “Uhm can I help you”
Me: (looking confused) “I, I want to come in?”
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: “Why?”
Me: “… to buy something … ?”
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: (gives me a condescending smile) “look honey, you see that line across the street? (points at a very, very, VERY long line-up) that’s the line-up to get in. Get in the line”
In my excitement, I failed to see the very long line-up across the street. The line-up must’ve been approximately 4 city blocks! No way I was gonna get in before they closed! My heart sank to my knees. No Cannoli from Carlo’s for Mary. I crossed the street again.
Soon after, Michael joined me. He noticed the disappointed look on my face. I told him of my exchange with Mean Bouncer Dude and how disappointed I was that I wasn’t to have my NJ treat.
A couple of things about Michael: He was born and raised in Union City, New Jersey. His family is from New Jersey. His family is Italian thru and thru. Aside from Italian pastries, New Jersey is famous for something else: Italian tempers.
After I told him my story, he simply looked at me and said “let’s go”.
We crossed the street again, and he opened the door to Carlo’s. Same Mean Bouncer Dude opened the door. Their exchange was as follow:
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: “Uhm.. can I…”
Michael: “is Buddy here?”
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: ” What?”
Michael: “Listen, my name is Michael M. I’m from Union City. My cousin is ___ from Hoboken, she is married to _____. I know _____ and ______ from Hoboken. Now I’m asking you IS BUDDY HERE?”
Big Mean Bouncer Dude: (looking frazzled) Buddy’s gone home, but Mary (his sister) is still here”
Michael: “tell her that Michael M. is here” – He pushed past Big Mean Bouncer Dude – “Mary, let’s go”
After that, I started to look at Michael with stars in my eyes. I must say that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
While I was looking around, Mary Sciarrone came out to greet Michael. They kissed each other on the cheek and chatted for awhile. People were going nuts, taking pictures of her and trying to shake her hand. Michael beckoned me to say hi. He had told her that I was visiting from Canada and that I was on a quest for a cannoli. She was very sweet and charming. She asked me how my vacation was going. She presented me with a brown paper bag. Inside was freshly-baked cannoli. She wouldn’t even take my money!
Michael I love you.
She excused herself, as she said she was very busy. Michael and I left soon after.
I opened the bag, the cannoli smelled delicious. I took a bit of the crispy and crunchy deep-fried pastry.
The cream was thick and not too sweet. It had chocolate chips in it. Apparently, that’s a New Jersey thing. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline still coursing thru me, but that was the sweetest, most delicious thing I have ever eaten.