Milwaukee lost a lovable character this week, as OnMilwaukee reported, Frank “Pepperoni Cannoli Guy” Pecoraro died at age 76. He was an East Side fixture for years and brought joy, sausage and pastry desserts to hungry drunks.
Anyone who has closed down an East Side bar knows former butcher Frank Pecoraro. But most folks didn’t know him by name, but by his call of "Pepperoni! Cannoli!" Yes, Frank Pecoraro, as I later learned, is the Pepperoni Cannoli Guy who peddled - you guessed it - pepperoni and cannoli to the bar crowds on Brady St. and around North Ave. for years.
Sometimes gregarious and pleasant, sometimes surly and cantankerous, Pecoraro was a Milwaukee institution, always ready to curb a hungry drunkard’s 2 a.m. craving. I have crossed paths with the local eccentric on several occasions.
My friends and I would spot Pecoraro amid late-night bar dwellers, toting a small, handheld cooler full of Italian goodies. “Pepperoni! Cannoli!” he’d shout as he made his way around the bar. Every time we’d see the little old man, we’d vow that next time we’d buy something. Finally, we followed through on our promise and flagged him over to our table on night while having a few beers at former Vox on the corner of Kenilworth Pl. and Prospect Ave.
The exchange was pretty quick and awkward. I’m totally convinced that the only English he knows, besides pepperoni and cannoli, is spicy, mild, two dollars and thank you. But, somehow we made the exchange and ended up with a cannoli. Though it was probably the worst cannoli I’ve ever eaten – it was soggy and tasted like the inside of his cooler – the two bucks we spent also got us a memorable experience and made us a part of a local tradition. Milwaukee’s bar scene will not be the same without this indelible character.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Feb. 21 at St. Rita’s Church (1601 N. Cass St.) at 4 p.m.
Original photo from Flickr.com (Creative Commons) by snowpea&bokchoi