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Arkansas isn't exactly known for our Sicilian population, so finding decent cannoli in these parts is something I'd marked up there with seeing a golden unicorn prancing down University Avenue. Turns out that good cannoli isn't quite as rare as all that, as the elusive beast can be found for just a few dollars at Mason's Deli in the Ottenheimer Hall section of the River Market. I was turned on to these tasty pastries by our sweets expert Dan Walker, and since he decided to go ahead and steal my favorite Japanese place away from me, I figure these cannoli are now fair game.
Cannoli at Mason's are made just right: a light crisp shell that's filled to order with a sweetened ricotta cheese mix and topped with a few semi-sweet chocolate chips for good measure. There's also some chocolate variations that are equally good, but this play of soft, sweet cheese against a crisp shell that tastes subtly of cinnamon is cannoli as many a Sicilian grandmother intended. Too many places keep their various cannoli sitting around in cases, pre-filled and slowly turning into soggy, chewy messes. This fresh variety is unique (to my knowledge) in Little Rock, and well worth a trip to the River Market to sample. Mason's also has a wide variety of more substantial deli foods available, but with dessert this good, you'll probably want to start their first.
It's hilarious that they would put more of the same shit in the Rivermarket and…