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.