Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Your Ass to San Mateo for: Romolo's Cannoli

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge Spumoni and cannoli from Romolo's in San Mateo. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Spumoni and cannoli from Romolo's in San Mateo.

Traditional cannoli seem to have been all but forgotten in this era of cupcakes and macarons. SFoodie took advantage of a rare sunny weekend earlier this month to rekindle memories of Romolo's in San Mateo, the oldest (and only, for that matter) cannoli and spumoni factory in the Bay Area. The Cappello family has operated this shop since 1968, and 3 years ago grandson Joseph ("Joey") Cappello took over the reins with help from his brother Michael.

This quaint little shop is clean and brightly illuminated, with exceptional service that included patient explanations for newbies. The handmade cannoli shells are made from unbleached flour, raw sugar, honey, cinnamon, cocoa powder, butter, white wine, and a few secret ingredients. The ricotta cream filling is a blend of imported ricotta, sugar, spices, chocolate chips and traditional citron, instead of the candied orange peel that's become common in the U.S. The $3.25 price includes your choice of garnish: cherries, chocolate chips, or pistachios, and for $3.50, you can get a chocolate-coated shell. At first glance, the deep bronze of the fried shells makes them look burnt, but the color results from the ingredients, which are traditional. Lighter-hued shells from competitors simply lack the complex mix of the ones at Romolo's.

click to enlarge LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong

What are the characteristics of good cannoli? The shells shouldn't be greasy, they should be filled to order (so the shells remain crunchy), and the cream filling shouldn't be too sweet. Romolo's got it right on every count. We ordered a cannolo garnished with pistachios, a special (vanilla ice cream cannolo garnished with butter brickle, $3.25), and the other specialty of the house, a wedge of spumoni ($3), layers of pistachio, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream accented with candied fruit and chopped nuts. Every item was a real treat.

The menu includes ice cream by the scoop or cone ($2.75-$4.50), prepacked containers, plus a few desserts like tiramisu, sundaes, old-fashioned drinks, and espresso. An assembly-required, take-home cannoli six-pack is available for those who want to play pastry chef at home. There's even extra filling, just in case you make a mistake.

Romolo's Cannoli and Spumoni Factory: 81 37th Ave. (at El Camino), San Mateo, 650-574-0625. Open Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CalTrain stop: Hillsdale. Walking distance: Three blocks southeast along El Camino Real, one block west on 37th Avenue.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Like us on Facebook.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Luis Chong


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"