[MSP] Gabagool and Cannoli in Twin Cities for Sopranos Finale
I'm planning my menu for Sunday night's Sopranos finale, something along the lines of what was discussed in this thread. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387548 I'll make some of the dishes from scratch, but I'd like to pick up some gabagool (capiciola) and cannolis (at a single stop, if I could) to supplement the meal. I am a better eater than cook, alas. Or maybe ricotta (rigott, according to McGeary's astute interpretation in the thread above) cheesecake.
Where would be best for that? Cossetta's? Buon Giorno? (Does the St. Paul location have the same selection as the Lilydale location?) Other? And, is there anything else you know of at either of these places that is especially tasty and would fit the Soprano's theme (i.e., was mentioned on the show, if possible) especially well?
The old Buon Giorno is the place you want to go, but it no longer exists. Cossetta's is the modernized version of the old Buon Giorno (and the old Cossetta's for that matter). The new Buon Giorno's halfway between Cosetta's and Broder's in food selection/quality. Broder's is all about the food quality but it's totally yuppie and has no cultural connection to north Jersey Italian. But it does have better food. Seriously better.
There's Morelli's on Payne and an old Italian grocery just south of a park in NE mpls, I think it's Delmonico's, but I'm not certain on the name. It's a bit tired at this point, a shadow of the glory days.
It is Delmonico's. It isn't the same since the Delmonico brothers stopped working the counter, but I still like it. Since it's so easy to get specialized Italian groceries at many other places, the only thing I ever aim to buy there is their homemade ravioli and sauce. I might get a couple of other things since I am there, but the reason to trek there is their homemade stuff.
I don't think they sell cannoli, incidentally. In fact, I am almost certain of it.
Well, TDQ, inspired by this thread, even though I don't have cable (no Sopranos),
I had to have some cannoli over the weekend. I ended up going to Broder's and
after asking a couple of people behind the counter, found one who agreed to sell me
a bunch of their little cannoli shells for about 40 cents each. Ha! and got some of
their fresh ricotta. Also some of their garlic-herb mascarpone-heavenly. And one of
the best cheeses I have ever had, Condio (alle) Spezie, now on sale but still pricy,
but they had samples out and I had to buy some. It's a mixture of raw goat and cow's
milk, and the rind is coated with a mixture of herbs that somehow flavor the cheese
even though the herbs are only on the rind. Before figuring out I could buy the
cannoli shells, I decided to buy some pizzelle and just spread the ricotta on them.
They were definitely a trip back to Philly. I made a cannoli filling at home with a bit
of honey, cinnamon and some shaved chocolate and stuffed the shells with it-
excellent! But- p.s. why does Broder's Cucina undercook their pasta for the cold
pasta salads? This is the second time in a row I've noticed that- and I know what
al dente is, this is undercooked. Oh well, saving me from having even more carbs.
This sounds like a fun idea!
You should be able to get the various Italian meats from Cossetta's or Broders, and they will slice them appropriately thinly.
If you want the kind of pizza Tony Soprano would eat, Broders would be the closest. Cheese, or extra-cheese.
One somewhat common northern-NJ/southern-Italian appetizer is caponatine, an eggplant spread. Most places which sell it call it caponata, but I've always heard it called caponatine. Trader Joe's has it in a jar which is actually reasonably close, made with Sicilian eggplants. You can get a jar of it and spoon it into a bowl to spread on crostini as an appetizer.
If you would like some cheese for an appetizer tray, you may be tempted by the asiago, romano, parmigiano reggiano (all of which I personally prefer), but if you really want to be authentic to the show, you should go with provolone. For some reason, this was consistently the most popular cheese on any Italian appetizer tray I ever saw in the area. Cut it in 1/2 inch square chunks, not slices. Again, Broders, Surdyk's, or Cossetta's would probably be your best bet. I've never gotten cheese from Cossetta's, so that one is a guess here.
Regarding the cannoli, I'm going to have to disagree with the crowd on this one, though. When I tried Cossetta's cannoli, I found it to be nothing like the cannoli of Soprano-ville (northern NJ). I detailed my take on Cossetta's cannoli in this previous thread:
I have to agree with the poster who said to "roll your own," especially if you want a bunch of them. Buy some Alessi pre-made cannoli shells from Cossetta's, some good whole-milk ricotta (from Surdyk's, Broders, or even some Polly-O), and make your own filling. They're easy to fill from a large zip-lock bag with the corner cut off, if you don't have a pastry bag, and this will probably also be much cheaper.
I've never tried Buon Giorno's cannoli, but it sounds like I need to take a trip out there sometime.
For another dessert, you can get some pistachio ice cream... I know I've seen it at one of the local shops (maybe Pumphouse, maybe Crema/Sonny's). This would probably be very common in the Sopranos neighborhood.
Hmm, that's about all I can think of at the moment. Wow, I'm hungry (and nostalgic) now! :)
re: Chris Mitra
Thanks for all that info, Chris. One more quick comment about the cannoli. I meant to say in my previous post about the ones from Cossetta’s that I know from nothing when it comes to cannoli, so I really can’t vouch for their “authenticity”. I just think they’re really tasty. So Chris may be spot on about them not being right for your party.
I also think the pistachio ice cream is a great idea, and wish I had some here for breakfast right now.
re: Chris Mitra
You'll note that I said that the cannoli in other cities was better. Another place I've had truly great cannoli was Balducci's in NYC.
My comment about Cossetta's cannoli was that I haven't had better in Minneapolis. This is NOT to say it''s as good as it is in Jersey or anywhere else. We just have slim pickings here.
I have yet to make it to D'Allesantro's - I tried once and found they have odd hours. So unless theirs is better than Cossetta's, I have not seen anyone who can offer a better place in MSP for cannoli. Which, again, isn't to say it's as good as it is on the East Coast. Cuz it's not.
So we don't disagree at all. I agree that cannoli with ragott is better than the mascarpone. But can one enjoy the flavor anyway? Yes, and many do.
pgokey, my standard question is, "Have you had the cannoli at Buon Giorno"? (I did read your comments about other stuff there).
These are the most similar to the cannoli you'll get in NYC (which is my preference over the sweet, heavy cream or frosting-like filling you get at many places) and, in my experience are equal to OR BETTER than those at the places I frequent in New York. I don't make statements like that lightly. If it gives me any "chow cred", I've been to every place in NY mentioned in Dara's City Pages article linked above and a number of others.
So I don't get sucked into a "best pizza" kind of argument, set your expectations for Buon Giorno at NOT sweet, but nicely balanced filling, traditional flavor (no chocolate, hazelnut, etc....one kind only) and larger size with pistachios on the ends unless you ask otherwise. Always made to order. If you like them on the sweet side, these aren't for you.
I agree that we don't disagree. :)
My interpretation of TDQ's question was that she was looking for chow as close as possible to what the Sopranos might eat, which is why I mentioned that Cossetta's take on the cannoli is not very similar to northern NJ. I find it perfectly reasonable that folks might like their cannoli in itself, though.
Coincidentally, we were at Colossal Cafe this morning and heard the table next to us asking where they could get a good cannoli. That wasn't anyone on this thread, was it?
Oh, and yes, D'Allesantro's has odd hours. The only reason I discovered it is that I worked in the warehouse district for a few months last summer. But it is worth the visit if it is open. And if I wanted to have a party catered with Italian or Italian-American food, D'Allesantro's would be on my short list.
re: Chris Mitra
Chris, you did interpret my question correctly, although, I confess, the answers have way exceeded my expectations in terms of regional and cultural nuances. The Midwest 'hounds never let me down! It's been fascinating, and I think I'm going to have to spend more time researching cannoli, even after the Sopranos goes off the air.
Nope, it wasn't me at Colossal Cafe--it's still on my list of places to try! But, I've seen at least a few different recent posts floating about on the different boards on Chowhound related to the Sopranos finale to think it's not a unique idea.
I'm having a ball researching and planning this menu. I wish I'd thought of it sooner. It's a fun way to turn watching television into an educational experience. I've been trying to figure out which other television shows I can do this with. Maybe, Amazing Race, as they go to different countries? Actually, I don't watch much TV, especially when the weather's good.
Anyway, we were in the neighborhood yesterday, so we popped in at Cossetta's. The ricotta in the deli case looked fantastic, so, we decided to buy that for both our baked ziti and home-made (since they clearly won't keep) cannoli. We bought the cannoli shells off the shelf, some wonderful house-made salad dressings, including a gorganzola (we are eating a lot of salad right now because that's what coming in our CSA box), some house made croutons, peasant bread (yum), a baguette, some spicy capiciola, which they sliced super thin for us, some wonderful fragrant provolone, and ziti (of course, for our baked ziti) and a couple other odds and ends.
I forgot how much I love Cossetta's little grocery, and it's convenient enough because they do have a parking lot. I should try to go more often.
We've sort of turned this into a Sopranos weekend as we've been snacking on provolone and gabagool since we brought it home, and last night, made some pizza rustica on the grill. I think I might head out later for some pistachio or Sonny's spumoni ice cream, if I can find it. :)
P.S. Now we can keep saying, "There's gabagool in the fridge..." just like Carmela said to Tony when she was in that kick where she decided she wasn't going to cook for him anymore.
re: The Dairy Queen
I'm *so* glad you went with baked ziti. Oh, what a great idea.
As far as regional nuances, though, I have to confess that for me it comes from purely coincidental experience, rather than any esoteric cultural studies -- I went to high school three minutes from the Soprano house. :)
Oh, and since you mentioned Colossal -- you MUST try Colossal Cafe. Package up the scents that waft out of a good Parisien patisserie, and turn them into a pancake. WOW.
re: Chris Mitra
Wow, small world, as they say.
I posted about my baked ziti here, on the home-cooking board. We liked it a lot and will probably add it to our winter repertoire:
The pre-made cannoli shells from Cossetta's worked out nicely, too. If you buy the shells pre-made, this turns out to be a really easy dessert!
Thanks for the wonderful recommendations, everyone!
re: Chris Mitra
re: The Dairy Queen
Yeah, pistachio, or spumoni would be another good choice. I think Sebastian Joe's might make a spumoni, but I can't remember if it was them or Pumphouse. Too many good ice cream places around here!
Sausage and peppers would be another good dish, very common. I would look for a sweet Italian sausage high on the fennel content -- Kramarczuk's in northeast might have one (even though they're Polish), and I think Cossetta's might have some good fennel sausage as well.
I really like the cannolis at Cossetta's. I've had better in Little Italy in NYC, and in the North End in Boston, but I guess I am not sure I have a preference for someplace else for them in the cities.
Can't help on the gabagool.
While the selection in the frozen food case at Buon Giorno's is great, I find the place to be almost ridiculously expensive compared to Broder's and Cossetta's. On several items, the price was at least 25% higher than it was at the other two places for the identical item. This is for their grocery items and some deli items. I have never been to the express place on University so my comments apply to Lilydale.
I really enjoy Cossetta's cannoli also. And I've found they hold up pretty well for at least a few hours. If you pick them up Sunday afternoon I think they would still be okay for your party. Although I have to say, I usualy wolf mine down as soon as I get home, if not before...
Broders Deli on 50th has some great deli meats and cheeses, and I love the cannoli--they also have cannoli molds and the recipe looks reasonably do-able if you're feeling adventurous. While you're there, check for the chocolate-toffee covered pistachios by the register. I could eat three pounds of them.
My 10 lire is that if you don't want soggy cannoli, and you are going to want to eat them
while watching tv, you can't buy them already made anywhere, since they will be soggy
by the time you get home. I personally don't mind a bit of moistening of the shells if
the filling is good. I have made them myself but the deep-frying of the shells is a bit
of a production- unless you have a good setup for deep-frying and are experienced at it-
I wasn't. But they came out great. The filling is easy to make yourself with good fresh
ricotta- just sweeten a bit, maybe a dash of cinnamon, shave some high-quality chocolate over it if you like. So I would say to get the Alessi shells from Cossetta's and
some of their primo ricotta and fill them yourself. The ricotta is very perishable, keep
cold as much as possible especially if it's hot out or it could get sour. I do like the
premade ones at Cossetta's and they have told me there is some ricotta along with the
mascarpone in their filling. Of course all ricotta would be preferable , but I'm not in
Philly anymore... You could have a lot of fun experimenting with different flavors for
the ricotta- eg chocolate, fruit etc. Mangia!
TDQ, I'm pretty sure Buon Giorno's St. Paul location only offers sandwiches and a few hot dishes -- they moved the deli cases to Lilydale when they built the new place. But oh, those deli cases! You'd love the selection there and if you're anything like me, you'd wind up spending WAY more than you ever intended to. And the cannoli are very, very good (they're filled fresh to order, so they're not sitting around getting soggy). Cossetta's also has a good deli case, though I can't vouch for the cannoli.
Dara did a whole article about cannoli last year, believe it or not:
Oh, I'd forgotten that article of Dara's--thank you for reminding me!
As far as Buon Giorno in Lilydale, I've purchased a couple of things there that I really recommend, though, they might reveal a non-chowhoundish side of me (i.e., the part that is a lazy cook): frozen house-made pizza. Might be the best frozen pizza I've ever purchased. (Italian Pie Shoppe on Grand Ave offers house-made frozen pizza, too. Some day I'm going to try theirs, too, so I can contrast and compare.) And, whole wheat gnocci. Fantastic.
Thanks for the info.