In 1904, Mario Isgro immigrated from Messina, Sicily to South Philadelphia and brought with him one very special recipe from his homeland. Today the third and fourth generations of his family are still creating his carefully sculpted cannolis.
A walk past Isgro Pasticerria on Christian Street and the smell ALONE is enough to get you to peek in! But it's the artfully mastered pastries that have kept the faithful lining up for blocks for almost 11 decades.
"It's the same cannoli we made over the past 108 years, nothing changes," says Mario's grandson Gus.
Today, he's the guardian of the secret to the strategically crunchy shell.
"The art of it is the mother dough and the wine that we use," he says. "It creates the blistering. The little bubbles that pop out of the dough when it's fried."
Every day Gus' son Michael plows through more than 4,000 perfectly precise pastry pockets.
"I can't get a machine that can cut them that quickly," Gus says. Like a line of uniformed dough soldiers, each fold must pass confection inspection.
Colonel Cannoli is Gus' Mom Mary! "We keep doing it the way we have always done it, no matter how things change," Mary says.
She stands guard with a keen eye from her kitchen table two rooms away from the main counter, watching each and every shell as its freshly filled.
"The most popular is the ricotta," Gus says. "We put some chocolate chips in it. If the people want, we still use citron or zucca melon."
They also have homemade vanilla and chocolate cream and mascarpone fillings.
They are all spooned to order, a technique so precise, so artfully mastered, it mimics Michelangelo.
You can visit at:
1009 Christian St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147