An Italian Restaurant in Florissant has a Positive Impact on the Community


Credit to Sarah Williams

A facade at Cannoli’s stands, promoting the heritage of the food and local sports teams. The restaurant serves Italian cuisine and most dishes are cooked using traditional methods.

By Mackenzie Pugh, North Star Reporter

When you pull up to Cannoli’s the vibrant, red neon sign stands out against the beige and brown tones of the walls behind. The smell of fresh bread fills the air. Even on a cool winter day the feeling of warmth radiates from the entrance, inviting customers in. Through those doors exists a second home for many citizens in the area from customers to employees at the establishment.

“We have so many regular customers,” co-owner Abby Freesmeier said. “Some started coming when we opened, some started a year ago. That’s what’s so nice because we have a smaller staff and it’s more intimate that when people come in they get to know us. Especially since we have a lot of staff that’s been here a very long time that we look at as family. Everybody knows everybody.”

The restaurant opened its doors in 1994 and has been family run ever since. It is currently co-owned by Abby Freesmeier and her father Tom Freesmeier. Abby’s grandfather opened the Italian restaurant, as his parents moved to the area from Sicily. This is where the restaurant gets its authentic charm that makes Cannoli’s stand out from other Italian restaurants in the area. Many dishes on the menu came from Abby’s great-grandmother’s recipes, and her grandpa even comes in every day to make their house dressing with his own secret recipe.

“I absolutely love it,” Danielle Cambron, family friend and long-time regular, said. “You can buy it in bottles and you can bring it home. It’s my whole family’s favorite dressing. We have it at every get together.”

There are several things on their menu that are made in a very old fashioned technique that you don’t find in many restaurants anymore. Some of their staples include their chicken spiedini and steak spiedini. These dishes are made by rolling seasoning into the meat, which is a classic tradition that is becoming unconventional in many restaurants. Another dish, braciole, involves steak with a hardboiled egg inside. Cannoli’s is one of only three places in the STL area where you can find braciole in the classic style they practice.

Along with the authenticity of their cooking, Cannoli’s is unique in their decor which makes the setting look as if it was taken out of a photo of the streets of Sicily. The walls of the restaurant are designed to look like houses and storefronts, each with a unique twist. The houses are numbered after the date the restaurant opened, family members’ birthdays and childhood sports jersey numbers. The storefronts are each dedicated to a member of the family: Abigail’s Bakery, Rosetta Imports, Eleena Marie’s Dance Studio and more. There are items on display belonging to members of the Freesmeier family like an uncle’s vintage radio collection and even sewing machines and suit jacket sleeves from a family member who did tailoring work for the mob.

“It is very homey,” Abby said. “We definitely try to keep it very welcoming.” 

The classic Italian hometown setting of the restaurant captures the essence of the eatery, where customers and staff both feel like Florissant is their home. They tried expanding once but were unsuccessful, so for now their future plans are to keep doing their thing and welcoming the community into their family.

“My parents and grandparents have always been in North County,” Abby said. “This has always been home.”