Steve Del Gardo always dreamed of opening an Italian café, but the Taylor Mill resident and native New Yorker who happens to be Italian, didn’t make any serious plans until after he was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 at age 44. After four rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, he became cancer-free in 2013. Five years later, after traveling the country educating others about male breast cancer with his nonprofit, Protect the Pecs, he decided to take the leap.
Last October, he opened his namesake shop, offering more than 55 sweet (Dreamsicle, pumpkin, and tiramisu); savory (crab rangoon, maple bourbon bacon, and black truffle porcini); and cocktail-inspired (key lime margarita, bloody mary, and mint julep) flavors of cannoli. The sweets’ shells—all made by a Brooklyn bakery—are dipped in white or dark chocolate and stuffed with a silky housemade ricotta– or mascarpone-and-heavy-cream–based filling. Each is filled to order to ensure a crunchy shell. “We have a display case, but you don’t see any cannoli in there,” he says. “That’s what’s key here: freshness.”