#91 Mannino’s Cannoli Express
It’s hard to imagine a food truck surviving mainly on one item — especially a dessert item. But these aren’t just any dessert item, they’re Gaby Mannino’s famous cannoli. Mannino has been hawking these hand-filled treats for eight years now, two out of a food truck. She buys shells baked in Sicily (which are wider than most domestically made shells) and makes the filling in her family’s Italian restaurant, in alternate varieties like chocolate and blueberry. Wherever Mannino shows up, her fans show up in large numbers as well, and there’s almost always a line at her truck. Kind of like how they all showed up on our survey page to propel her truck onto this list.
Mannino’s Cannoli Express has had a food truck for the past two-years, but operator Gaby Mannino began selling her hand-filled cannolis eight years ago at the Hammonton Blueberry Festival, in a town where folks know a thing or two about the Italian pastry. While she operates out of Folsom in Atlantic County, she makes the filling at her family’s Italian restaurant in Pitman, Gloucester County. She buys shells baked in Sicily. They are wider than many domestically-made shells – more room for filling – and have a distinctly vanilla flavor. What’s in the filling, either plain, chocolate chips or blueberry? Mannino laughs. “A lot of love. And sugar,” she answers. Food truck festivals mean more children in line and fewer who’ve eaten the sweet treat, she added.
While the tunes are carefully selected this year, live music is a standard at the festival, as are the blueberry-infused eats. Festival-goers from years past may remember Gabriella Tomasello’s popular blueberry cannoli stand, which she started in her senior year of high school.
To accompany the fresh blueberry cream, always made the day of or night before, Tomasello orders shells from Sicily which are, according to her, much better quality than what can be found locally. “It’s going to be much better quality this year,” Tomasello explains. “Every year we get better and better and every year we sell out. So I’m over prepared this year. I have 7,500 shells ready.” “Coming from an Italian background, that’s all we usually have for dessert,” says Tomasello on why she chose to focus her efforts on cannolis. “Being a Hammonton local, what’s better than having locally grown, fresh blueberries to use for your cream.”