WATERVILLE - Being able to indulge in true authentic Italian food without leaving the state used to be unheard of. Now, it's as simple as walking down Main Street in Waterville. Holy Cannoli opened last summer and since then locals and visitors alike can't seem to get enough of the desserts.
"I'm from New Haven, Connecticut where Italian food is quite prevalent. I tried cannolis up here and I didn't like them," explained Candace Savinelli, owner of Holy Cannoli. "I got so tired of bringing up van loads of pastries from home. So we opened in June of 2012 and started making cannolis and other Italian pastries."
Business was so good that Savinelli actually had to move up the street to a bigger place. The newer location has room for people to sit and eat and also allows her the ability to offer customers more than just sweets.
"We do homemade lasagna and Stromboli and we do it the right way," said Savinelli.
One of her biggest sellers, besides cannolis, is eggplant parmesan. It just earned Holy Cannoli the "Best Entree" award at last month's Taste of Greater Waterville, an annual outdoor event showcasing all the businesses in the area.
"At one point we had a line out the door and down the street," said Savinelli.
Fortunately 13-year-old Kayla Washington of Ohio didn't have that long of a wait when she got to try a cannoli for the first time while vacationing here in Maine.
"I didn't know what to expect, but I loved the combination of the crunchy shell and sweet filling," said Washington. "I'd definitely order one again."
Filling orders for people from away is actually common for Holy Cannoli.
"We have all kinds of people that come. We have people that come in from Canada and we have a woman who lives in Massachusetts who sends either her mother or mother-in-law in for our soup," said Savinelli. "We also get a lot of people from Bangor and people from Aroostook County that come in on Sunday, load up and go back."
And that kind of loyalty hasn't just boosted business. It's also generated some instant friendships between Savinelli and her customers.
"It feels so good to see them excited and happy about the food," said Savinelli. "I truly enjoy the people. I've made a lot of friends through the business."
Holy Cannoli is open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, including menu items, log on to www.holycannolimaine.com.