The journey to Cannoli Bar starts with a drive down Riviera Road, which is lined with brick houses and olive trees. It's nestled in the heart of Avondale Heights, an area that is distinctly Italian, filled with Italian delis, bakeries, butcheries and restaurants. Now, it's home to another important Italian icon: a family-run cannolificio (cannoli shop), which produces around 1000 handmade cannoli every day.
Located in a converted milk bar, the compact store features stripped back walls, tools and miscellaneous items that pay homage to "Nonno", says Cannoli Bar co-owner Carlo Mellini. "We wanted to celebrate the non-elegant Italian culture that people love," said Mellini. "Everything from the ladder to the timber bench resembles the carts in Catania, Sicily, which sell cannoli and fresh fruit."
With this sense of Catanian community in mind, staff greet their already loyal customers by name, despite having been open for less than two months. The unassuming cafe is filled with the energetic chatter of Italian locals, discussing their home towns. In busier hours, punters line out the door waiting to get their hands on a ricotta-filled pastry.
"I grew up in Avondale Heights, and there has always been an abundance of Italian food producers here," explains Mellini. "There are Italian-centric bakeries, delicatessens and butcheries, so it only felt right to open up a shop celebrating the dessert heritage Italy has to offer."
"Ricotta cannoli have always been my favourite dessert since I was little," Mellini continues. "But I never imagined this childhood love would turn into what it is now: Cannoli Bar."
Cannoli veterans and first-timers can both find something to enjoy here. Freshly piped classics include the 'classico', Nutella and pistachio, and limited-edition (and untraditional) versions include the popular Oreo, Bounty, Ferrero Rocher and lemon meringue experimentations.
Unlike some of the lesser-quality cannoli found around Melbourne, these freshly piped delights are made using a traditional recipe. A highlight is the tiramisu, which is dusted with a chocolate, filled with ricotta and has an espresso biscuit hidden in the middle.
While you're at Cannoli Bar, you can try a range of other Sicilian desserts, too, including biscotti, Italian croissants and bomba (filled doughnuts).
Images: Julia Sansone