Life is a Combination of Cupcakes and Pasta!

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On every refrigerator, overshadowed by some silly magnets, photos of our furry friends and occasional family recipes from mom and grandma, lies an old sticky note telling you to “Take That Dream Vacation NOW”.

Mine goes something like this:

1. Go to a locals-only Italian town.

2. Learn how to make pasta from scratch.

3. Drink Red Wine. Lots of it.

So when I heard that The Pasta Peddler was moving to Hertel I took it upon myself to pay the store owners a visit and give them a warm “Hello Hertel” welcome.

And boy, am I glad to have done so!

What started as a hobby almost twenty years ago in Eric’s father-in-law Mike’s basement, has come a long way to become The Pasta Peddler we know today – proclaimed by many as the finest artisan pasta available in Buffalo.

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This is only one of the many feathers in his cap, for his wife offers a delectable selection of cupcakes and other baked goods – Wait For It – at the same store, making the location on Hertel a joint venture between The Pasta Peddler and Blackbird Sweets.

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What makes them unique though are their future plans, as the owner very enthusiastically informs me about the possibility of a not-for-profit winter market (thanks to a big and spacious retail space), and a pasta-making class in the near future which hopefully would involve some wine drinking as well!

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He already had me when he used two of my favorite words in a sentence: Wine and Pasta. But throw in some Buffalo knick-knacks scattered around the store, a tiramisu flavored cupcake aptly named “Hertel”, reclaimed wood counters from Buffalo Reuse, a la monferrina pasta machine (its like the Hermes of pasta machines), the fact that he is a fellow NoBo resident and Buffalo Believer, I am more than happy to buy pasta from him for the rest of my life! And I am sure, so are you.

So stop by the store and show them some Buffalove! Do not forget to try the raviolis and the dark chocolate salted-caramel “Blackbird” cupcake, you will thank me later.

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The Pasta Peddler and Blackbird Sweets are celebrating their move to Hertel with a grand-openeing on September 27th, 2014.

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Leave the money. Take the cannoli.

This time of year makes me so very happy. Not only do I get a hall pass from Karen to say things like “Che se dice?” and “Mia famiglia!” in my loud, overly exaggerated Cake Boss Italian accent, I get to repeatedly wander down to Hertel Avenue to cruise the Italian Fest for cannoli upon cannoli.

Sure, other offerings of the fest greatly appeal to me. Campi’s Pizza. Mozzerella Stuffed Meatballs from Salvatore’s. Steak and dandelions from Lombardo’s. But if I only had $4 in my pocket, my lone purchase would be “un cannolo.”

So because EVERYONE loves them, I’ve taken the liberty to give you everything you need to know about the cannoli offering this year – from price, to location, to the most important taste factor. But let me point out that only ricotta filled cannoli are under consideration. Any substitute for that is un-Italian and just plain wrong.

Here’s the cannoli vendor lineup, in no particular order.

Tombaks

Tombak’s: The bakery got its start in the Broadway Market and now serves the local farmer’s market scene. One location near Commonwealth boasts six varieties and the least expensive cannoli on the street at $2.50. Slightly thin filling but very tasty! 

Angelos

Angelo’s: Very sweet filling. They also made the daring move from chocolate chips to rainbow sprinkles to serve as the garnish to the tube ends. $3.50 each or buy six get one free. Three locations throughout the thoroughfare, I bought from the one in front of Daddio’s Pizza.

RomanosRomano’s: Filled directly from the pastry bag right in front of me, this $3.50 cannoli was as fresh as they come. It also had great texture and consistency, something I found to be inconsistent across the vendors.Two shops between Crestwood and Lovering, I chose the one in front of Top Shelf Music. Also serving up the buy six get one free deal.

Ginos

Gino’s: Priced at a whopping $4, I was expecting a foot long and got a cocktail wienie. In trying to be fair and objective, I just can’t see how this one could command the fest’s highest price. The pastry shell may have been undercooked and overall the cannoli was just rather bland. One location at Virgil Ave.

Muscarellas

Muscarella’s: Not to be confused with Muscoreil’s in Tonawanda. Their Italian confection had somewhat of a frozen yogurt texture to it, but I was happy to see chocolate chips right in the filling. Green sprinkles gave it some flair. $3.50 in front of Caruso’s Italian Imports. Buy six get one free available too.

Romeos

Romeo & Juliet’s: Kitty-corner to their actual restaurant at Hertel and Crestwood, their $3.50 cannoli probably has the most distinct, amaretto, flavor of them all. A thinner filling as well, but the real story here is the amaretto.

And my winner is…

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ROMANO’S!

Romano’s provided just a perfect amount of crunch in a delicious shell, a desirable consistency, and overall great flavor. And to top it off, the baker’s Italian accent was as authentic as the cannoli too. Buon appetito!