NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– When you see the cannoli truck parked out on the street, you might just think of it as containing a tasty treat. But to the Meriano family and the people at Smilow Cancer Hospital, the cannoli truck means much more.
The family-run Meriano Bake Shoppe, now located in Madison after opening in Guilford in 1988, was the shoreline’s first full line bakery. Today, the bakery and the cannoli truck are run by siblings Anthony, Liz and Andrea Meriano.
They added the cannoli truck to their business last June and it has been a success ever since.
“We start by preparing all the flavors on the truck, we have eight to ten flavors at one time,” said Andrea.
The Merianos decided to add a cannoli truck to the mix after being inspired by Yale Dr. Daniel Boffa, who treated their father, Anthony Meriano.
Their parents Anthony and Elizabeth have since passed away from cancer so it was important to the Merianos that the cannoli truck would benefit a cause to which they were so close. They decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to The Thoracic Oncology Program Fund at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale- New Haven.
The cannoli truck posts its schedule of the stops it makes on its Facebook and Twitter. Most stops are in New Haven or around the New Haven county area. Stops are made at locations like Chapel Street, Cedar Street, George Street and even at Quinnipiac University.
It was especially meaningful to the Merianos that they bring the truck to the place that inspired them.
“It was really important for us to be near the hospital. The first time my sister and I pulled on to Cedar Street we actually teared up. We were crying, this is why we built this truck,” said Andrea Meriano. ” I did the Closer to Free Ride last year and it was so great being there.”
Besides their work with Smilow, the Merianos also benefit the community by keeping their business local. Andrea explained how most of their ingredients, including the essential cheese, is made in the state.
When asked what makes a good cannoli, Andrea said, “keep it simple.”
And most people agree. When asked what the best seller is, Andrea said it’s always the traditional, which is a regular shell, ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. The Oreo cannoli is also another popular choice, along with Andrea’s favorite, which is the chocolate peanut butter.
The cannoli truck also keeps up with the flavors of the season and what’s fresh that month. This time of year, it’s adding some locally grown strawberries to the mix.
The flavors don’t stop there, some others are heath bar, mounds bar, raspberry cream and even maple bacon.
“We start with our traditional fillings, then we add whole ingredients to make the flavors, so if it’s Oreo, we add Oreo filling, if it’s Nutella, we add Nutella. So we do different things,” said Andrea.
They bake the cannolis in the bakery the morning before the truck hits the streets.
“We make the cheese in the morning that the truck is going to go out, bucket them up, put them on the truck. We hand dip our own shells, so all the shells we make, we hand dip in chocolate, plate those, put those on the rack, we have a baker’s rack in the truck. And it’s pretty simple because we sell the one thing,” said Andrea.
The pink and white truck with trims of leopard print is hard to miss. Andrea helped design it herself.
“I took my niece’s crayons and drew out the truck,” she said.
The cannoli truck is also available to be booked from private events such as weddings or corporate functions. It can also be found at farmer’s markets.
Meriano Bake Shoppe is open Tuesday- Saturday from 9 AM – 6 PM and on Sunday 8- 1 PM. They are located at 200 Boston Post Road in Madison and the cannoli truck can be found in different locations around New Haven. For more information, call 203-453-2924.