How many cannolis can you make over the span of 100 years? That’s a question only the Muscarella family could answer.
Tony Muscarella’s grandfather opened a West Side Bakery in 1915. For the past 39 years, the family has been hawking its sweet delights at Buffalo’s annual Italian Festival – first on Connecticut Street, and now on Hertel Avenue.
Muscarella, a retired Buffalo school principal, shared some family trade secrets with WBFO as he manned the helm at this year's Italian Festival.
“You’ve gotta make a good filling, a good shell, nice fried fresh,” Muscarella said. “Ricotta cheese we use is Sorrento cheese, that’s the best cheese you can get and you fill them fresh for people and they eat them right away crispy as can be. Some people buy them in Supermarkets and think they’re supposed to be soggy, but a cannoli really has to be eaten fresh.”
Muscarella’s grandfather started the family business a full century ago, selling Italian desserts out of Muscarella’s Bakery on the West Side. Cannoli-making has been a family business ever since. Next year, Muscarella and his wife, Mary Kay, plan on handing the reigns down to their nephew, who will become its fourth generation owner.
After serving the handmade treat at the festival for nearly four decades, Muscarella has seen many changes to the yearly tradition.
“The old-timers that used to come, everybody was hugging and kissing each other all up and down the strip and you know, it was real Italian,” Muscarella said. “Now it kind of changed, a lot of young people are coming. A lot different nationalities, but they still love eating and they still buy them.”
He fondly recalls the years when the event was held on Connecticut Street prior to its relocation to North Buffalo. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the popular festival relocates again at some point.
“I think they would move again eventually. I think everything’s going to be down on the waterfront. They’ll probably have an area for the festivals people could go down. One week, the Taste of Buffalo, one week the Italian Festival. And that would be a nice sell,” Muscarella said. “Because a lot of times the neighborhood people are not happy with all the parking and all the people throwing garbage on their lawns. But it's been good on this street.”
The Galbani Italian Heritage Festival wrapped up Sunday night.