In Boston’s historic North End exists potent Southern Italian influences that are well-preserved in pasticcerias, pizza parlors, pasta havens and cafes. Two of the most notable Italian bakeries, Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry, both famous for their cannoli, glare at each other through their opposing storefronts on Hanover street. Masses of tourists and passionate foodies hoard into Mike’s at any given time, any day of the week, while Modern remains slightly more modest with a distinct yet loyal following of local customers. Ask any given, longtime Boston resident who has the best cannoli, and they’ll instantly narrow it down to these two shops. So, as the investigative journalists and passionate Bostonians we are, we had to ask: who really has the best Boston cannoli?
MISSION: WHO HAS THE BEST CANNOLI?
WHO: MIKE’S PASTRY VS. MODERN PASTRY
WHAT: TRADITIONAL CANNOLI. PLAIN SHELL, RICOTTA FILLING.
WHERE: IM BOSTON HEADQUARTERS
JUDGES: IM BOSTON STAFF (CANNOLI LOVERS)
WHY: TO SETTLE THIS DEBATE ONCE AND FOR ALL
Watch the full taste-test video to find out who the king of cannoli really is. Can’t wait? Scroll past the video where you’ll find our verdict:
MIKE’S: Everything is super-sized here. Their cannoli are huge, the lobster tails seemingly weigh 10 lbs, and even the cupcakes push the boundaries of their liners. The store is definitely bigger than Modern with more sweets to pick from, but there will definitely be a crowd to dodge through. This is especially the case if you’re here during the city’s tourist seasons.
Mike’s also offers an overwhelming number of cannoli flavors such as chocolate chip, peanut butter, mint chip and about 15 others. Additionally, Mike’s cannoli are pre-filled as opposed to filled-to-order. This could, perhaps, make Mike’s shells a bit more soggy. You’ll also find that Mike’s cannoli is about as decadent and indulgent as a dessert can be. It’s huge in size, overwhelmingly sweet and outright addicting. Yet these are the factors that keep tourists migrating here from all over the world, so Mike’s cannoli must be doing something right.
MODERN: Modern is modest in size, with only a handful of cannoli options to pick from. Don’t let the menu size fool you though; every item they offer is about as top class as you can get. They also allow you to “build your own” cannoli. You can pick from a number of shells, including gluten free options, four fillings and three toppings. We opted for a box of the traditional cannoli, of course. We watched as the woman behind the counter went to the back to freshly hand-fill each shell with their ricotta concoction. Modern fills-to-order every cannoli and doesn’t keep any pre-filled flavors in their front display. Additionally, Modern is cheaper than Mike’s (which might be explained by the size difference). Mike’s cannoli could probably eat one or two of Modern’s cannoli, but for what Modern lacks in size they make up for in quality.
MOST DELICIOUS: MIKE’S PASTRY
MOST AUTHENTIC: MODERN PASTRY
CONCLUSION: Mike’s knows what the people want, and they give it to them. An indulgent, over-stuffed cannoli will satisfy any sweet tooth. Coupled with the cute packaging and inviting decor, Mike’s has all the makings to be a tourist attraction. But if you’re not a tourist, or don’t like overly sweet pastries, then skip the mob and head to Modern. Locals will agree that Modern’s cannoli is more appropriate for traditional gatherings, and will surely make any Italian grandmother proud.