Move over cronuts. Donnolis are the new confectionary combo that you need to try at Big Vinny’s Pizza & Donnoli.
You’ve definitely eaten a donut at some point in your life. You’ve probably had a cannoli as well. But have you ever had a donnoli, a cross between the two? If not, be sure to pencil in Beacon’s Big Vinny’s Pizza & Donnoli on your calendar ASAP, where you can experience this concoction in all of its sugary, gooey glory.
The donnoli is the creation of Vincenzo Vaccaro, the proprietor of Big Vinny’s, who began whipping up treats at the tender age of 11 in his parents’ bakery in Queens. During the pandemic, Vaccaro, his wife, and daughter moved to Marlboro and looked to open their own pizza and pastry place. (They previously owned a shop in Astoria.) Not long after they relocated, they happened upon Beacon. “My wife Beatriz said, ‘This is the spot, this is where the business should be,’” recalls Vaccaro of the narrow space on Main Street where they’ve set up shop. “We love Beacon! Everyone is so welcoming, supportive, and down to earth.”
The donnolis are inspired by a pastry called a cartocci, a cylinder-shaped brioche filled with cannoli cream. “People usually eat them for breakfast in Sicily with a nice espresso,” says Vaccaro. “Customers rave about my cannoli cream, so I wanted to make a donut filled with it. But I was trying to be unique and kept wondering what it would be like if I added different toppings.”
For Vaccaro that means cereal such as Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Nutella, peanut butter, crushed Oreos, candied bacon, s’mores, chocolate fudge, and more. One batch takes Vaccaro three hours to make. “I have to prepare the dough, roll it out and onto the metal dowels, fry the dough, make the cannoli cream, then fill and add the toppings. It’s a very long process.” He usually makes one batch a day, though sometimes he’ll make a second.
Donnolis are inspired by a Sicilian pastry called a cartocci, a cylinder-shaped brioche filled with cannoli cream.
The donnolis have developed a bit of a cult following thanks to social media (@bigvinnys). Vaccaro credits this to their fluffy, creamy quality, and the absence of a crumbly cannoli shell, which can be hard to eat. “People are very curious to see what a donnoli is and we get a lot of return customers,” says Vaccaro, whose pizza, available by the slice or as whole pies, is also a draw. For the fall, he’s working on a seasonal apple-centric donnoli topped with chopped pieces of pie. “Every week I come up with new ideas,” says Vaccaro. “And, surprisingly, they work.”