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Entries in The Bronx (2)

Friday
Jan202012

Holy Cannoli from DeLillo's in the Bronx

As Marmo, John and I were making the rounds about Arthur Avenue, we needed to make a stop to satisfy our sweet teeth. Between the three of us, we have quite a few sweet teeth. And all those teeth want one thing: cannoli.

We - John and I - have some rules about cannoli. In a previous post about Pasticerria Rocco in the West Village, I discussed some of the characteristics to look for in an exceptional cannoli. You may want to read about them. For today, we will be visiting De Lillo's in the Bronx.

For this review, we thought we would bring you a he said/she said version of things.

First, the "he said" from John:

The De Lillo cannoli is very satisfying. Almost surprisingly so.

Why the surprise? Here's why: Originally, Elana and I were concerned as to its make-up; the cannoli on display were already filled. Already filled!?! That's typically a big no-no, despite being a widely accepted practice in many bakeries. Think about it - the more time a moist, cream filled cannoli sits around, the soggier and less crisp it becomes. A useful analogy is the change in a pizza's consistency when bought fresh vs. delivery. This makes me angry if I end up eating it.  And then, I'm liable to do this:

Which would have Mom get very angry with me, which then puts me in the doghouse for receiving my annual birthday apple pie.  Which would be a terrible result.  The negative domino effect from a bad cannoli is catastrophic, as you can see.

Thankfully this cannoli from DeLillo's is quite good. Perhaps they are sitting in a special vacuum display case, where they are immune to condensation, or perhaps the cannoli were just immediately (within in the last 10 minutes or so) filled, because the shell is very crisp, fresh, and tasty. The cream is milky and sweet, but not overly sugary or grainy. I give it a thumbs up.

John approved

And now, she said, from Elana:

Let it be known that I once again exercised restraint. I refrained from eating my cannoli immediately in order that I might take some pretty pictures of them. See above photo for evidence. I was curious to see how this wait time would compromise the crispness of the cannoli shell.

I was surprised to discover that the shell remained crispy. Additionally, while the shell is often thought of as a carrier for the more intense, thick and flavorful filling, I found the shell to have a personality - that is, taste - all it's own. A slightly sweet fried dough with ample "fry pockets" where extra filling can hunker down and take up residence.

I found the cream itself to be satisfying in the ricotta flavor department, but the consistency was a touch too firm. This may be the result of having had it piped into the shells in advance. I don't like a cream log. I want it to flow a bit. I want to stick my finger in there and swirl it around a little....I like playing with my food. And I feel like certain foods should allow this, cannoli cream among them.

I also sampled a chocolate dipped cannoli (shown below).

Now the review of the chocolate cannoli is a little....off....

I ate it at night. Or, em....early in the morning. And I ate it a week and 2 days after I bought it. I was just hanging out in the fridge, for what reason, I really can't tell you. But I came home one night and fancied something sweet. And so I examined the forgotten DeLillo's box at the back of my fridge and contemplated the pro's and con's of eating this week+ old cannoli.

I found no cons.

And I still don't – I regret nothing! I would say that the chocolate is very heavily applied, so it makes for a very dense and heavy shell. As for the chocolate filling, it is still light with just a touch of chocolately depth to it, I imagine so the whole enterprise doesn't become overwhelmingly chocolatey.

Overall, I enjoyed both old original and chocolate style cannoli, with the mentioned caveats. I would not say this is my favorite cannoli. But definitley worth the trip.

De Lillo's Pastry Shop
606 E 187th St

Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 367-8198

Friday
Jan132012

Madonia Brothers Bakery in the Bronx – Carbing Me Up Since 1918!

If you read Wednesday's post you know that John, Marmo and I had an all-out food fest last Saturday on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It was nuts. We left the Bronx with the car packed to the rear-view mounted EZ-Pass with pastas, pastries, wines, cheeses and BREAD.

Between John and I, I am probably the one with the carb fixation. We've discussed this. It's a problem that I don't wish to fix.

So when we walked past Madonia Brothers Bakery and I spotted this in the window, I seized up a little bit:

Prosciutto bread? In a fancy ring that I could potentially wear as a floury bangle bracelet and take occasional (ok, constant) nibbles from all day long, like it was one of those candy necklaces you had in the third grade?

Yes, please! I'll take two - one for each wrist.

In reality the prosciutto bread rings are much larger than bracelet sized. But while they are unwieldy as an accessory, they are excellent for actual eating.

The above photo provides a close-up view of the prosciutto chunks nestled between the crispy, bubbled golden brown crust and the soft salty insides. Cracked pepper speckles the ring and provides a little bite and also a nice contrast to the salty prosciutto.

Dip this in some olive oil, melt some provolone on top – you won't be sorry.

But I didn't stop there. Marmo is often like a little blonde food oracle. And when the food oracle speaks, I listen. Or pretend to, anyway. Marmo's advice at Madonia's was to get the Cheese Bread. "You MUST," said she.

And so I did, and dove in immediately after they handed me the freshly sliced loaf. The cheese is integrated so seamlessly into the bread that it feels and tastes like part of the batter. The result is a soft cloud where flour and cheese intermingle with tiny flecks of pepper.... I should have purchased more than one loaf as it didn't last until the next day.

I then spotted a Cranberry Walnut bread staring me down by the cash register. It laughed in my face. It said, "You think you're going to walk out of there without me? Think again, lady."

Now, I've met some Cranberry Walnut breads in my time. They aren't modest. They pack themselves full of berries and nuts and just let it all hang out, unembarrassed and unashamed. They want you to butter them. They like it.

The above photo demonstrates this well-deserved berry and nut conceit. This is another loaf I should have purchased in bulk. I've been toasting it with some currant jam, plopping poached eggs on top and calling it a night. Or a morning. Or a snack... A little cinnamon cream cheese will do the trick too. To say nothing of butter.

While we were there the FDNY Tower Ladder 58 rolled up and invaded the bakery.

The roof was not on fire, literally speaking anyway. The group of firefighters walked in and purchased 1/3 of the inventory of the place. I'm glad I got mine before the hungry firemen.

Not even a week later and I only have a little prosciutto bread left. I stupidly handed over my other prosciutto bangle to The Box. I'll be headed out for a return trip, as should you! Even if it's for the very first time!

Madonia Brothers Bakery
2348 Arthur Ave
Bronx, NY 10458

(718) 295-5573