"Take the cannoli — leave the gun."
That piece of cinematic history in the 1972 Academy Award-winning classic The Godfather now has new meaning for the Tri-Cities.
Cannoli is a crunchy, creamy and ricotta cheese-filled Italian pastry one could almost die for.
Now residents in Port Coquitlam — and beyond — can pick and choose the pastry, toppings and flavourings for their own confection at a new shop at 1125-950 Seaborne Ave.
Cannoli King Vancouver is expanding to Port Coquitlam and holding its grand opening Nov. 20.
Owner Sam Pero says he expects folks to like the fact they don’t have to travel far to get their cannoli.
Instead of heading to east Vancouver or searching for a food truck, Tri-City residents can head to the commissary kitchen and retail shop in the Dominion Triangle, a few blocks off of Lougheed Highway near the Walmart Supercentre.
"Port Coquitlam has been great to work with," said Pero, "Everything has just worked out very well."
Pero, a former mechanic who got into the family baking business after a back injury, needed more kitchen space to supply his east Vancouver bakery, Italia Bakery, located at 104-2828 E. Hastings St., as well as his popular Cannoli King food truck.
After a successful start at the commissary kitchen, he decided to open a retail operation, where people can choose their pastry, filling and toppings and take them home.
"They see it happening in front of them, they see it’s fresh-filled, that’s important when eating cannoli, and everything is high quality."
Among the most popular flavours is The Nonna, based on a breakfast treat of toast, ricotta and jam made by his grandmother. It’s a cannoli filled with sweet ricotta and jam.
Another popular flavour is the Sicilian, filled with sweetened ricotta, chocolate chips and almonds.
For many, their first introduction to cannoli is through a visit to the Cannoli King food truck, which is a staple at the PNE and many public events.
However, the family bakery business has been around since 1985, when Pero's father, Francesco, started handcrafting Sicilian cannoli and other Italian desserts.
Sam worked with his father, up early at 4 a.m., but it was a successful venture at Italian Days that was the impetus for the Cannoli King food truck.
The festival event was originally supposed to be a one-off, and the long-time Port Moody resident decided to keep the food offerings to one simple dessert — cannoli.
"We had line-ups and it was like ‘You’re the cannoli king.'"
The rest is dessert history.
Pero is well-known in the area for his sponsorship of a local hockey team and support for Share Family and Community Services, which runs the food bank in Port Moody.
But Pero hopes his new PoCo shop will expand his reputation as the king of cannoli, which he describes like a true connoisseur.
"The best I can describe it is sweet cream crunch."