Il Giardino Del Dolce: Citron lovers, this one is for you. That lemony-orange flavor comes through strong in Il Giardino Del Dolce’s cannoli, balancing out a rather sweet ricotta filling. Not a citron fan but still want to sample this bakery’s take on the Italian pastry? Fear not, the bakers also serve up cannoli without the jellied bits.
Il Giardino Del Dolce: 2859 N. Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL 60707 (map); 773-889-2388; IlGiardinoDelDolce.com.
Buona Terra: Hoping to add a little wining and dining to your cannoli consuming? Look no further than this Logan Square eatery. The cannoli is prepared to order, allowing for a flaky, light shell that breaks easily without coming completely undone. And the slightly dense, subtly tangy ricotta filling is the perfect accompaniment to a cappuccino.
Buona Terra 2535 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-289-3800; buona-terra.com.
D'amato's Italian Bakery: D’amato’s makes a sweet treat even sweeter by enveloping the fried shell in a thick layer of bittersweet chocolate. The filling is a bit less sweet than standard in order to balance out the dessert. One tiny quibble: the hardened chocolate makes the shell a little tough to muscle through. We assure you, though, it’s worth the battle.
D’amato’s Bakery: 1124 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map), 312-733-5456. Cash Only.
Palermo Bakery: Located on the edge of suburban Elmwood Park, home to one of the area’s largest Italian populations, Palermo is a go-to for traditional, no-fuss cannoli. The shell’s not hard, but not soggy. The filling is sweet, but not overly so. And the bookend candied cherries are a tasty-yet-traditional alternative to green-dyed nuts.
Palermo Bakery: 3317 N. Harlem Avenue, Chicago, IL 60634 (map); 773-777-5957; store.palermobakerychicago.com.
Sicilia Bakery: After more than 40 years of business on Chicago’s north side, this tiny Jefferson Park bakery has had time to perfect the art of cannoli making. The ricotta filling strikes the perfect balance between creamy and sweet. The candied citron adds just enough zest to be noticeable, but not overwhelming. And the shell is fried to perfection: crispy and stiff, but not so much that the whole pastry falls apart upon the first bite.
Sicilia Bakery: 5939 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60630 (map; 773-545-4464; siciliabakerychicago.com.