The first thing you spot when you enter Luca Pastry on Washtenaw is a mural depicting a fluffy sheep riding happily on a Vespa, with Michigan Stadium and other Ann Arbor landmarks in the background.
The second thing will probably be the cannoli bar. Unless it’s the colorful macarons or the case of luscious cakes.
Luca, which opened in mid-March, features recipes brought from Sicily by owner Anthony Cangialosi’s grandfather. It’s the fourth Luca in the metro Detroit area, joining others in Canton, Livonia, and Plymouth. All are run by family members.
A fan of Michigan football, Cangialosi spotted the former TCBY yogurt store location while driving by and decided to nab it.
“A lot of people from Ann Arbor come and visit the Canton store. It seemed like a good move for us,” says Cangialosi. “I’ve always loved this community.”
As a cannoli connoisseur, my visit immediately brought to mind my trips to legendary Mike’s Pastry in Cambridge, Mass., which offers multiple flavors of cannoli each day. But where Mike’s lineup is preset, customers at Luca can custom order at a “cannoli bar,” choosing among eight ricotta-based fillings, such as lemon, espresso, and chocolate, and several styles of cannoli shells, including plain and chocolate-dipped.
Ann Arbor is the first Luca to get a cannoli bar, which a staff member tells me has been very popular since opening.
If you can’t make up your mind, Luca offers a dandy prefilled cannoli, studded on each end with chocolate chips, which are also in the filling. Both the custom versions and the ready-mades cost $4. In addition, Luca sells a pint-sized tub of filling, into which you can dip pieces of fried cannoli dough, another East Coast touch.
The Wegmans supermarket near where I lived in Boston sold cannoli dip like this, only with a far less generous serving of filling.
Luca’s cakes are not to be ignored, however. They are multilayered concoctions, in flavors like carrot, chocolate raspberry, cookies and cream, lemon, and of course, cannoli. A full-sized cake is $32; a slice, easily shareable, is $4.
I was pleasantly surprised that my cannoli cake slice wasn’t overly sweet: the cake itself was a light sponge, with cannoli filling between the layers and a whipped-cream icing—much less cloying than buttercream.
Cheesecake and Luca’s version of Sanders’ famous chocolate bumpy cake (here called bubble cake) are also available. For smaller appetites, there are fruit and lemon tarts, as well as chocolate-iced éclairs and cake pops.
There’s no seating inside, but patrons can pop next door to Bambu for strong Vietnamese coffee or a boba drink to go with their desserts.
Luca Pastry, 3354 Washtenaw Ave., (734) 929–4749. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. lucapastrymi.com