Location: I was at the Taste of Little Italy festival, but their permanent location is at 850 King Street West, Toronto
There was a whole bunch of interesting food at the recent Taste of Little Italy street festival, though Cannoli Crunch — who make various flavours of cannoli and then fill them fresh to order — was one that I couldn’t resist.
(Also: after a couple of years of their absence thanks to you-know-what, it was quite delightful to be back at a street festival.)
Though some of the other flavours sounded interesting, I went with the classic ricotta-filled cannoli dipped in pistachio. Hey, it’s a classic for a reason.
It was so good. It was filled to order, so the shell remained abundantly crispy, as it should. And the filling was actually quite unique; cannoli filling generally has that slightly grainy texture that you get from ricotta, but the version here was smooth like custard while still retaining its delightful ricotta flavour.
The contrast between the crispy shell and the ultra-creamy filling was really nice, and the whole thing had a perfect level of sweetness — sweet, but not in-your-face sweet. It was a great dessert.
Location: Follow them on Instagram to see where they’ll be
There’s nothing sadder than biting into a cannoli only to find that its would-be crispy exterior has been rendered soft and chewy by the ravages of time.
Holy Cannoli, which had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival, avoids this problem quite definitively by filling their cannoli shells to order. This is clearly the way to do it. I don’t know why every bakery doesn’t do it this way.
So of course, the shell was nice and crispy, just as it should be. It’s crispy but not overly crunchy — it’s basically the perfect cannoli shell.
You can choose from either chocolate chip or vanilla filling; I went with the latter, and it was creamy, sweet, and tasty. Nothing about it particularly jumped out as being amazing, but it was a solid cannoli.
Location: 80 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Mamakas Taverna had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival on Ossington, serving up chicken and pork souvlaki. It was almost improbably good. Like, is the food at a street festival even allowed to be this good? It was easily the best souvlaki I’ve ever had.
It’s simple enough — it features pita bread slathered with tsatziki, and topped with chunks of pork and tomatoes (onions are also an option, though I skipped those).
Every element here is amazing. The pork is cooked on a spit over coals, giving it a nice smoky flavour. It’s perfectly cooked and amazingly juicy.
They chop the pork up and toss it in some kind of magical, zesty sauce; little touches like this make all the difference. The pork would have been perfectly delicious if they had just served it as-is, but that sauce kicks up its flavour, adds additional moisture, and elevates the wrap from good to great.
The creamy, mint-and-garlic-infused tzatziki is just as delicious as the pork, and complements it exceptionally well. And the bread is the perfect vehicle — it’s fresh, a little bit chewy, and amazing. The whole thing is exceptionally delicious.
Location: 613 College Street, Toronto (but it’s only served during Taste of Little Italy)
The Taste of Little Italy street festival is a decent event for food — lots of interesting vendors, and generally some pretty good eats to be had. However, every year there’s one clear highlight, and that’s the Risotto al Parmigiano Reggiano served up by La Forchetta Ristorante.
Oh man, that risotto. It’s pretty basic: it’s got some green onions for colour, sometimes some chopped asparagus (though I didn’t taste any this year) but it’s otherwise no-frills risotto. I think what really pushes it over the edge is the big wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano that they serve it in. The Italian cheese melts generously into the rice, giving it a luxurious richness, and a really satisfying, almost nutty flavour. As they serve it, they scrape the bottom of the wheel with the spoon, ensuring that each serving is as packed with cheese as possible. It’s seriously good.