Donut? Cannoli? Meet The Cannoli’s Sicilian Cousin, Cartocci

Sicilian pastries at Pane & Gelato are a must for lovers of Italian sweets.

Even if it still feels like autumn, Christmas is approaching, so why not pretend snow is falling and you’re sipping cappuccino at an Italian cafe in the East Village? No, make that Eastchester. And swap the cannoli for a cartocci, which looks like the latest wacky creation dreamt up by the creator of the Cronut, but is actually just one of many traditional Sicilian pastries at Pane & Gelato. In place of a cannoli shell is a large, spiral-wrapped tube of sugar-coated donut, stuffed with an almost obscene amount of cannoli cream, all made fresh with ingredients imported from Sicily. Good luck not finishing this. Does the absence of a shattering shell make for less restrained bites, or is a sugar donut just more irresistible? “Let me make it for you fresh,” said owner Paolo Pilano, who grew up in Agrigento, Sicily.

Even more appealing—not to mention amusing in its role as breakfast sandwich—is brioche con gelato, a brioche roll stuffed to the gills with superb homemade gelato. Flavors include pistachio (made with nuts from Sicily), Zuppa Inglese, and Bacio (as in the Perugia candy)—sure, get three. Don’t forget the espresso and maybe a morning paper. 

Brioche con gelato, a brioche roll stuffed to the gills with superb homemade gelato.

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Christmas cookie stuffed with nuts and figs and a Genovese, or custard-filled pastry.

Also worth seeking out are the Genovese, a dome-shaped, custard-filled pastry served warm on the streets of Sicily; tawny, chewy almond paste cookies dotted with apricot; pasticcio, like little pies (try the chocolate mousse studded with hazelnuts); and Christmas cookies stuffed with nuts and figs. Cassata, a classic Sicilian cake made in miniature, is proud in its red (cherry), white (icing), and green (marzipan) over sweetened ricotta and the light layer of sponge cake that’s the excuse for it all.

Pane & Gelato
290 White Plains Rd
(914) 337-1800