Vaccaro's began in Washington DC in 1906 when my great-grandfather, John Vaccaro, came from Palermo and opened an Italian bakery and grocery not far from Union Station in downtown DC. He was a master pastry chef, and made all sorts of Italian pastries, but the favorite was always his cannoli. Some say he invented it; I can't say. I can tell you that his secret method for making cannoli cream, still in use today, is one I've not seen elsewhere. On Sundays at Vaccaro's, the line would stretch around the block after mass finished at the Holy Rosary, DC's "Italian Church", which was just around the corner.
My grandfather Charlie Vaccaro and his wife Anna ran the store and crafted all the pastries his father taught him to make. Clearly the cannoli was special as he sold them to a few local restaurants, including the famous AV Ristorante at 607 New York Avenue, a favorite of Jack Nicholson, The Pines of Rome in Bethesda, who still carry the cannoli and DC's Famous Luigi's, both in the city and in Bethesda. DeVito's Deli, just a few blocks from our store, sold our cannoli. Today, DeVito's is in Ocean City, MD and you can still buy our cannoli there. Those are five of the original six that bought cannoli from my grandfather. Pastore Foods, an Italian Food Distributor and Baltimore landmark, also carried our cannoli(and still do), delivered by my grandfather in his station wagon.
My father, John Vaccaro, bought the cannoli recipe and the six customers in 1977, separated it from "the store" and began going door to door selling our high quality, great tasting cannoli to local restaurants, delicatessens and hotels. He and my mother Debbie took the great leap to make us what we are today, a cannoli manufacturer. He brought cannoli to the fore here in DC, winning an award from the Washingtonian magazine in 1980 for best cannoli and indirectly many times since as our customers have been awarded best cannoli, shhh, don't tell anybody! Once, Dad received a call that Frank Sinatra wanted our cannoli delivered to his hotel. Upon finding out that Mr. Sinatra expected they'd be free, alas, Dad declined.....aye carumba! Sadly, Dad died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 36. My sainted Irish mother ran and grew the company through most of the eighties and nineties.
Me, I've made cannoli my whole life and was taught how by my father, grandfather and grandmother. I stood on a milk crate to work when I was too small to reach the table level. I'm forty-four now, and have made cannoli since I was seven, never worked a day anywhere else, never wanted to.....ok, maybe the thought crossed my mind occasionally. Focus is placed on the process, ingredients and packaging to get you a fresher, better tasting cannoli without additives or recipe changes. Our great team of dedicated employees make Vaccaro's Cannoli to the standards set by my great-grandfather each day.
In the last sixteen years we've grown eight fold, all without losing an ounce of quality. I won't allow it. Many think our cannoli are machine made because they're so uniform in shape, but actually ours are still hand rolled, because I've yet to find a way to automate without giving up quality, but I'm working on it! In the coming days you'll finally be able to buy direct from us, as we've had requests for years. When you see the illustration of my Dad and me on the box, I hope it reminds you of our commitment to quality and I hope you find that the cannoli are like none you've ever tasted.
Now you know a little more about why.