If you find yourself in Manhattan and want to experience a legendary city landmark, make your way to 195 Grand Street, between Mulberry & Mott St. in Little Italy for what many claim are the best cannoli in New York. My daughter would be able to tell you better than I would about that, but I would say they are at least very good, as is just about everything else at Ferrara.
Ferrara has been in business in the Italian section of Lower Manhattan since 1892 and has been visited by celebrities, as well as been mentioned in books and movies and a few television series. Joseph Valachi, in an account of the Cosa Nostra recalls buying cannoli from Ferrara in the 1930's and 40's when being interviewed for The Valachi Papers by author Peter Maas. Fictional mafia boss Tony Soprano buys cannoli for his mother from Ferrara.
There are three ways to enjoy Ferrara: You can walk up to the entrance for gelato, cannoli or other baked goods or walk into the counter and choose what you want from the glass counter lining the side of the interior. Or, like my two kids and I did one hot June afternoon, we chose table service and selected from the menu.
Table service adds to the bill, but the wait staff present themselves in old world black slacks and white shirt, usually the mark of someone taking this service profession seriously and with pride. They are pleasant, attentive and efficient.
We opted for coffee, mint Italian soda and Sanpellagrino for drinks, a sfogliatelle for me and, of course, the legendary Ferrara cannoli (below), served with powder sugar. Who could beat this afternoon treat in one of the greatest cities in the world?
Several other times throughout our week-long stay in the city we made the journey to Ferrara via subway to get an afternoon or early evening treat of strawberry or vanilla gelato or cannoli. The famous bakery became one of our favorite places in a city of favorite places.
I won't debate the minutia of the "best" cannoli or gelato in a city like New York, but I can say that good atmosphere, good people and good food form the glue which makes for incredible experiences and great travel memories. Ferrara Bakery does well at providing the food and the atmosphere, and after great gelato and cannoli, who isn't a better person, if even for awhile.