Flavors galore at Holy Cannoli in downtown San Jose
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The name “Holy Cannoli” is more than apt for a cafe and bakery in downtown San Jose: the restaurant’s cream is as light as a cloud in heaven. The thin, crispy shell gives the dessert a bit of crunch, but the ethereal cream is a miracle of smoothness with a creamy, rich texture.
With two sizes, nine flavors and 18 toppings, you can have a different cannoli variation almost any day of the year. And when you’ve run out of cannoli variations to try, there are still freshly baked pastries and a range of breakfast and lunch options on the menu.
“My grandmothers were both home bakers and my dad was a chef,” said owner Jamie Whitmire, who founded St. Cannoli in 2013. “I grew up cooking with them and went to cooking school, partly because I already knew I was a good cook and knew how to pair flavors. But I wanted to learn the basics of cooking, baking and the knife.
After graduating from culinary school, she started catering and running a food truck, still her main business. She opened her showcase in 2021.
“I opened at the height of the pandemic,” Whitmire said. “It turned out, surprisingly, to be a good time. At any other time, a cafe and bakery wouldn’t have had much publicity just for opening, and people were very supportive. »
With an established clientele through her restaurant business and a location just one block from San Jose City Hall at 138 E. Santa Clara St., Whitmire has a ready forum for her diverse skills.
“I call myself a chef and a baker,” she said. “It’s a skill set that not everyone has, but I like to do both. I have a sweet/salty profile so both go hand in hand for me.
Her cannoli recipe comes from the Italian side of her family, with its own modern twists. The cream starts with a base of mascarpone, mixed with ricotta cheese, cinnamon and powdered sugar.
“The freshness of the cream itself makes you want to come back for more,” said Toni Saldivar, local baker and owner of The Sugar Table. “And the different toppings like pistachios and coconut give you lots of choices.”
These choices start with the selection of creams, all based on the traditional plain cream, including fruit, chocolate, Nutella and pistachio. The cream is poured into handmade shells daily, then the ends of the cannoli are dipped in a wide variety of fillings, including toasted nuts, milk or white chocolate chips, fresh raspberries or strawberries, oranges or candied lemons, caramel and even espresso beans. .
“I keep getting people to say what I’m making isn’t real cannoli,” Whitmire said. “But I wanted to be creative and make it a specialty item that no one else was doing in the area. So I thought outside the box to create all these different flavors. I also have the ability to create flavors that the people might want to order specially.”
While cannoli are the obvious center of the shop, Holy Cannoli is also a full menu cafe. Whitmire offers a breakfast menu along with assorted pastries and a lunch menu including homemade ravioli, freshly baked focaccia sandwiches, calzones and salads.
Still, the cannoli is the big draw, especially for regular customers like San Jose resident Colm Cunning, who’s been coming since opening day.
“My wife and I saw they were opening and we’re both cannoli addicts, so we stopped by,” he told San Jose Spotlight. “Everyone here is friendly and the cannoli are awesome. I just had a panini for the first time and it was really good too.
Cunning’s favorites are traditional cannoli and chocolate with caramel filling.
“I can go through six of the minis or two of the regulars,” he said. “I would tell people to check this place out if they are somehow interested in cannoli.”
For Whitmire, while she finds new ways to serve cannoli, she also respects the traditions she learned from her grandmother.
“There’s a certain nostalgia to having a cannoli when you come from Boston or New York or Italy,” she said. “I have people traveling from all over the Bay Area and they tell me about how their families made cannoli or the bakeries they went to when they were younger. When they come in and see us whistling, it takes them back to another time and it’s a great connection we make with our customers.
Contact Robert Eliason at [email protected]
Phone: (408) 561-2223
Location: 138 E. Santa Clara St. in San Jose
- Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Closed Sunday and Monday
What puts them on the map: All variations of flavors and toppings