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A Cannoli Comparison

September 19, 2011

If you know anything about Boston cannolis, you know about the rivalry between Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go by Mike’s in the morning before the crowd had emerged. I had the classic plain cannoli and a portion of the lobstertail. Both were cold, sweet, fresh, and delicious. I probably shouldn’t have consumed anymore calories that day. I had yet to go to Modern Pastry when Cecilia mentioned that she wouldn’t be opposed to having some cannoli. I immediately decided that a breakfast taste-test between the two bakeries was in order.


First up – Mike’s Pastry

We got to Mike’s at the end of our walk on the Greenway. Cecilia ordered the other classic, yellow cream. I would say that the Mike’s cannoli is about 3 inches in length, 1.5-inches in diameter. The shell has crispy outer bubbles and a toast-tasting crunch, sturdy enough to support a luscious sweet filling. $2.50 for a cannoli big enough for two.

We agreed that we preferred the traditional ricotta filling

To cleanse the palate and breathe a little after inhaling the Mike’s cannoli, Cecilia and I went next door to Caffe Vittoria. This old-school Italian cafe had been recommended by multiple sources on Boston dining for its old-world feel and cappuccinos. All the sources were completely correct. $3.50 for a medium to large-sized cup of cappuccino, hot and strong with creamy foamed milk and a professional dusting of cocoa.

Perfect in between cannolis

I'm very charmed

Buzzed on espresso yet sated by foamed milk, we walked the few steps to Modern Pastry. It was less crowded and warmer in colors and temperature. I noticed that Modern’s cannolis were filled to order yet about half the size of Mike’s. Would the more traditionally-sized cannoli be appreciably fresher or tastier?

A nicer presentation with the option of powdered sugar

My verdict: Modern may win on presentation and comparative wait-time but Mike’s wins on value and eating experience. Although I did not note a major difference in sweetness between my memory of the Mike’s plain ricotta cannoli and Modern’s plain cannoli, Modern’s cannoli filling was less smooth. Modern’s cannoli probably costs about the same as Mike’s but is substantially smaller. I say probably because I also ordered Modern’s smaller sfogliattelle without the sweetened ricotta cream. Our total was $6.40.


This sfogliatelle was somewhat hard to eat – the outer shell pattern was more hard than flaky or crispy although I did like the cream-less inside with it’s squishy bread interior scented with cinnamon and citrus. The inside was very good when warmed. I would have gone for the true lobstertail if they had not been so gargantuan – on this score, Modern beats Mike’s size.

This picture does not do these monster lobstertails justice

At the end of this contest, I have to declare Mike’s Pastry the winner of the Boston North End cannoli challenge (they were better than the cannolis at Wholly Cannoli in Worcester as well) and I think Cecilia would agree.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. C-licious Bonecrusher permalink
    September 19, 2011 9:43 am

    You betcha.

  2. Pattycakes permalink
    September 20, 2011 2:13 am

    Om nom nom. I think I’ve had cannoli before, but I can tell you that before this moment whenever anyone said the word “cannoli” I had no idea what they were talking about. Love love love all the pictures.

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