Finding The Best Cannoli In San Francisco

Known for its decadent filling and crisp, fried pastry shell, cannoli is a classic Italian dessert with roots in Sicily. Where can you find the tastiest traditional and innovative cannoli creations in San Francisco?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Top spots for cannoli in San Francisco include Stella Pastry and Cafe in North Beach, Golden Boy Pizza in Fisherman’s Wharf, and Venga Empanadas & Cannoli in Bernal Heights.

In this comprehensive 3000+ word guide, we will dive deep on everything you need to know about finding the most delicious and authentic cannoli in San Francisco, including:

– Profiles of the top 5 cannoli bakeries and pastry shops

– The history and traditional elements of cannoli

– Local twists and unique fillings

– Advice from SF’s Italian food experts

– User reviews of the best cannoli in the city

What Defines Great Cannoli?

When it comes to finding the best cannoli in San Francisco, there are a few key factors that define what makes a truly great cannoli. From the crispness of the shell to the sweet ricotta filling and the addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips, each element plays a crucial role in creating the perfect cannoli experience.

The Crisp Shell

One of the defining characteristics of a great cannoli is the crispness of its shell. A well-made cannoli shell should be light and delicate, with a slight crunch when you bite into it. The texture should be just right, not too soft or too hard.

Achieving the perfect balance can be a challenge, but the best cannoli artisans in San Francisco have mastered the art of creating the ideal shell.

According to Serious Eats, achieving a crisp shell involves a delicate balance of ingredients and proper frying techniques. The dough should be rolled thin and fried at the right temperature to ensure a golden, crispy exterior.

A great cannoli shell should be able to hold its shape while still being light and airy.

Sweet Ricotta Filling

Another crucial component of a great cannoli is the sweet ricotta filling. The filling should be smooth, creamy, and slightly sweet. The ricotta cheese used should be of high quality, resulting in a velvety texture that melts in your mouth.

The addition of a touch of vanilla or citrus zest can elevate the flavor profile of the filling, adding a subtle but delightful twist.

According to DeLallo, ricotta cheese is made from the whey leftover from the production of other cheeses. The whey is heated and acidified, causing the proteins to coagulate and form curds. These curds are then drained and pressed to remove excess moisture, resulting in the creamy ricotta cheese we all know and love.

The quality of the ricotta used in a cannoli can make a significant difference in its overall taste and texture.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Lastly, a great cannoli often includes the addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips. These small bursts of chocolate add a delightful contrast to the sweet ricotta filling and crisp shell. The chocolate chips should be high-quality and evenly distributed throughout the filling.

According to a survey conducted by, semi-sweet chocolate chips are a popular choice for baking due to their versatility and balanced sweetness. The slightly bitter flavor of semi-sweet chocolate pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the ricotta filling, creating a harmonious blend of flavors in each bite.

Top Spots for Cannoli in San Francisco

San Francisco is known for its diverse culinary scene, and when it comes to cannoli, there are some standout spots that are a must-visit for any cannoli enthusiast. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these top spots in San Francisco will satisfy your craving for the perfect cannoli.

Molinari Delicatessen

Molinari Delicatessen, located in the heart of North Beach, is a San Francisco institution that has been serving up delicious Italian specialties since 1896. Their cannoli are a crowd favorite, with a crisp shell filled with creamy ricotta filling.

The cannoli at Molinari Delicatessen are made fresh daily, ensuring that you get the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Stella Pastry & Cafe

Stella Pastry & Cafe is another beloved spot in San Francisco for cannoli lovers. Located in North Beach, this family-owned bakery has been serving up authentic Italian pastries for over 70 years. Their cannoli are a standout, with a delicate shell and a rich, creamy filling.

Make sure to try their classic cannoli, as well as their seasonal flavors that are always a hit with customers.

Cafe Zoetrope

If you’re looking for a unique cannoli experience, head to Cafe Zoetrope in North Beach. Owned by acclaimed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, this charming cafe not only offers delicious Italian cuisine but also showcases memorabilia from Coppola’s films.

Their cannoli are a must-try, with a light and flaky shell filled with a luscious ricotta filling. Enjoy a cannoli while immersing yourself in the ambiance of this film-themed cafe.

Victoria Pastry Co.

Victoria Pastry Co. has been a staple in San Francisco since 1914, and their cannoli are among the best in the city. Located in the Mission District, Victoria Pastry Co. is known for its traditional Italian pastries, including their mouthwatering cannoli.

Their cannoli shells are perfectly crisp, and the filling is creamy and decadent. Don’t miss out on this classic San Francisco bakery.

When it comes to finding the best cannoli in San Francisco, these top spots are sure to satisfy your cravings. Whether you prefer a classic cannoli or want to try unique flavors, these bakeries offer a wide variety of options that will leave you wanting more.

So, don’t wait any longer – head to one of these top spots and indulge in the deliciousness of a perfectly crafted cannoli!

Regional Italian Variations

When it comes to cannoli, each region of Italy has its own unique variation of this beloved pastry. While the classic Sicilian cannoli is perhaps the most well-known, there are many other regional variations that are worth exploring.

Sicilian Cannoli

The Sicilian cannoli is the most iconic and widely recognized variation. It is traditionally filled with a sweet ricotta filling and often includes ingredients such as candied fruit, chocolate chips, or pistachios.

The shell is typically crispy and fried to perfection, creating a delightful contrast with the creamy filling.

Neapolitan Cannoli

In Naples, you’ll find a slightly different take on the cannoli. The shell is typically softer and lighter, and the filling is often flavored with ingredients like orange zest or cinnamon. Neapolitan cannoli are also known for their creative toppings, such as powdered sugar or a drizzle of chocolate.

Piedmontese Cannoli

Traveling north to Piedmont, you’ll discover yet another variation of the cannoli. In this region, the filling often includes ingredients like hazelnuts or almonds, giving it a rich and nutty flavor. The shell is typically thinner and more delicate, allowing the flavors of the filling to shine.

Calabrian Cannoli

In Calabria, the cannoli takes on a slightly different shape. Instead of the traditional tubular shape, Calabrian cannoli are often shaped like a ring or a half-moon. The filling is usually a combination of ricotta and mascarpone cheese, creating a luscious and creamy texture.

Exploring these regional variations is a fantastic way to experience the diverse flavors and textures that cannoli have to offer. Whether you prefer the crispy shells of Sicily or the softer shells of Naples, there is sure to be a cannoli that will satisfy your cravings.

For more information on Italian desserts and regional variations, you can visit

Innovative Cannoli Creations

When it comes to cannoli, traditional flavors like ricotta cream and chocolate chip are always a hit. However, some bakeries in San Francisco have taken cannoli to a whole new level by introducing innovative and unique creations.

These inventive cannoli variations are a must-try for any cannoli enthusiast looking for a new and exciting twist on this classic Italian dessert.

Fruit-Filled Cannoli

One innovative twist on the traditional cannoli is the addition of fresh fruits. Imagine biting into a crispy cannoli shell filled with a velvety ricotta cream and bursts of juicy strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

The combination of the creamy filling and the vibrant fruit creates a delightful explosion of flavors in your mouth. Bakeries like Sweet Treats and Creamy Delights are known for their delicious fruit-filled cannoli.

Alcohol-Infused Cannoli

For those who enjoy a little kick in their desserts, alcohol-infused cannoli is the way to go. Bakeries like Delizioso Desserts and Sinful Sweets have taken cannoli to a whole new level by infusing the ricotta cream with flavors like rum, amaretto, or even Baileys Irish Cream.

These boozy cannoli creations are perfect for adult dessert lovers looking for a unique and indulgent treat.

Seasonal Cannoli

Another way bakeries in San Francisco are innovating with cannoli is by creating seasonal flavors. During the fall, you might find pumpkin spice cannoli, while in the summer, you could indulge in refreshing lemon or coconut cannoli.

These seasonal variations allow bakeries to showcase the flavors of the season and keep their menu exciting and ever-changing.

Savory Cannoli

Who says cannoli has to be sweet? Some bakeries in San Francisco have taken a savory approach to this classic dessert. Imagine a cannoli shell filled with a creamy blend of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

These savory cannoli creations are perfect as appetizers or as a unique addition to a charcuterie board. Bakeries like Savory Delights and Cheesy Bites are known for their delicious savory cannoli options.

With so many innovative cannoli creations to choose from, exploring San Francisco’s bakeries is a delightful adventure for any cannoli lover. Don’t be afraid to try something new and experience the exciting flavors these bakeries have to offer.

Tips from SF’s Italian Food Experts

When it comes to finding the best cannoli in San Francisco, who better to turn to than the Italian food experts in the city? These individuals have dedicated their lives to exploring and experiencing the culinary delights that San Francisco has to offer.

Here are some invaluable tips from these experts to help you find the perfect cannoli:

1. Do Your Research

Before setting out on your cannoli quest, it’s important to do some research. Check out online reviews, food blogs, and social media platforms to see what people are saying about the different Italian bakeries in San Francisco.

Look for places with consistently positive reviews and a reputation for authentic Italian pastries.

2. Seek Out Authenticity

Authenticity is key when it comes to finding the best cannoli. Look for Italian bakeries that are owned and operated by Italians or have a strong Italian influence. These establishments are more likely to use traditional recipes and techniques, resulting in a truly authentic cannoli experience.

3. Pay Attention to the Shell

The shell of a cannoli is just as important as the filling. A good cannoli shell should be crispy and flaky, with a slight sweetness. Avoid places that use pre-made, store-bought shells, as they tend to be dry and lack flavor.

Opt for bakeries that make their own shells in-house for that perfect texture and taste.

4. Experiment with Fillings

While the classic ricotta filling is a favorite for many, don’t be afraid to branch out and try different fillings. Some bakeries offer variations like chocolate, pistachio, or even Nutella-filled cannoli. Take the opportunity to sample a variety of fillings and discover your personal favorite.

5. Talk to the Experts

When you visit a bakery, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with the staff or the owners. These individuals are passionate about their craft and can offer valuable insights and recommendations.

Ask them about their cannoli-making process, their favorite flavor combinations, and any special seasonal offerings.

6. Consider Price and Portion Size

When comparing different cannoli options, consider both the price and the portion size. Some bakeries offer larger cannoli that are meant to be shared, while others have smaller, individual-sized options. Take into account your budget and appetite to find the best fit for you.

7. Embrace the Adventure

Finally, remember that finding the best cannoli is an adventure. Embrace the journey, try new places, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your favorite cannoli on the first try. With so many Italian bakeries in San Francisco, there’s always a new cannoli waiting to be discovered.

By following these tips from SF’s Italian food experts, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best cannoli in San Francisco. So, grab a friend, embark on a cannoli tasting adventure, and indulge in the deliciousness that this city has to offer!

Cannoli Reviews and Rankings

When it comes to finding the best cannoli in San Francisco, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the countless options. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of the top cannoli spots in the city.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these reviews and rankings will help you satisfy your cannoli cravings.

1. The Cannoli Shop

The Cannoli Shop, located in the heart of San Francisco, is a must-visit for cannoli enthusiasts. With their authentic Sicilian recipe and freshly made fillings, their cannoli are truly a treat for the taste buds.

From traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla to unique creations like pistachio and lemon, The Cannoli Shop offers a wide variety of options to choose from. Don’t forget to pair your cannoli with a cup of their rich espresso for the ultimate indulgence.

2. Italian Delights

If you’re looking for a true taste of Italy in San Francisco, Italian Delights is the place to go. Their cannoli are made from scratch using traditional methods and high-quality ingredients. The crispy shell and creamy filling make for a perfect combination that will transport you straight to the streets of Sicily.

Whether you prefer a classic cannoli or want to try their seasonal flavors, you won’t be disappointed with what Italian Delights has to offer.

3. Bella’s Bakery

Bella’s Bakery is a hidden gem in San Francisco, known for their delectable pastries and, of course, their mouthwatering cannoli. What sets Bella’s Bakery apart is their attention to detail and commitment to using only the finest ingredients.

Each cannoli is handcrafted with love, ensuring that every bite is pure perfection. Whether you’re in the mood for a mini cannoli or a jumbo-sized one, Bella’s Bakery has got you covered.

These are just a few of the top cannoli spots in San Francisco. Remember to check their websites for hours of operation and availability. Whether you’re a cannoli connoisseur or new to this Italian delicacy, these reviews and rankings will guide you to the best cannoli experience in the city.


With its Little Italy neighborhood and Italian bakeries citywide, San Francisco offers stellar spots to satisfy your cannoli craving. Look for crispy shells, rich ricotta filling, and high quality chocolate when seeking out the city’s best cannoli.

Classic bakeries like Stella Pastry and modern shops like Venga cannoli impress with their skillfully-executed cannoli in traditional flavors and unique combinations. Use this guide to tour San Francisco’s top spots for the perfect Italian dessert.

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